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The Best 

American Humorous 
Short Stories 

Edited by 

Editor of "Representative American Short Storiet," 

"The Book of the Short Story," the "Little 

French Masterpieces" Series, etc. 


EcTlttTOH HOlUiff 

New York 





George Pope Morris 


Edgar Allan Poe 


Caroline M. S. Kirkland 


Eliza Leslie 


George William Curtis 


Edward Everett Hale 

PUNSTERS 1861 94 

Oliver Wendell Holmes 

Mark Twain 


Harry Stillwell Edwards 


Richard Malcolm Johnston 


Henry Cttyler Bunner 


Frank Richard Stockton 


Bret Harte 


0. Henry 




George Randolph Chester 
A CALL 1906 237 

Grace MacGowan Cooke 

William James Lampton 

GIDEON 1914 260 

Wells Hastings 


The Nice People, by Henry Cuyler Bunner, is republished 
from his volume, Short Sixes, by permission of its publish 
ers, Charles Scribner's Sons. The Buller-Podington Com 
pact, by Frank Richard Stockton, is from his volume, Afield 
and Afloat, and is republished by permission of Charles 
Scribner's Sons. Colonel Starbottle for the Plaintiff, by Bret 
Harte, is from the collection of his stories entitled Openings 
in the Old Trail, and is republished by permission of the 
Houghton Mifflin Company, the authorized publishers of 
Bret Harte's complete works. The Duplicity of Hargraves, 
by O. Henry, is from his volume, Sixes and Sevens, and is 
republished by permission of its publishers, Doubleday, Page 
& Co. These stories are fully protected by copyright, and 
should not be republished except by permission of the pub 
lishers mentioned. Thanks are due Mrs. Grace MacGowan 
Cooke for permission to use her story, A Call, republished 
here from Harper's Magazine; Wells Hastings, for permission 
to reprint his story, Gideon, from The Century Magazine; 
and George Randolph Chester, for permission to include 
Bargain Day at Tutt House, from McClure's Magazine. I 
would also thank the heirs of the late lamented Colonel 
William J. Lampton for permission to use his story, How 
the Widow Won the Deacon, from Harper's Bazaar. These 
stories are all copyrighted, and cannot be republished 
except by authorization of their authors or heirs. The editor 
regrets that their publishers have seen fit to refuse him per 
mission to include George W. Cable's story, "Posson Jone'," 
and Irvin S. Cobb's story, The Smart Aleck. He also regrets 
he was unable to obtain a copy of Joseph C. Duport's story, 
The Wedding at Timber Hollow, in time for inclusion, to 
which its merits as he remembers them certainly entitle it 
Mr. Duport, in addition to his literary activities, has started 
an interesting "back to Nature" experiment at Westfield, 


Critic, Poet, Friend 



Look into those they call unfortunate, 

And, closer view'd, you'll find they are unwise. Young. 

Let wealth come in by comely thrift, 
And not by any foolish shift: 

"Tis haste 

Makes waste : 

Who gripes too hard the dry and slippery sand 
Holds none at all, or little, in his hand. Herrick. 

Let well alone. Proverb. 

HOW much real comfort every one might enjoy if he 
would be contented with the lot in which heaven has 
cast him, and how much trouble would be avoided if 
people would only "let well alone." A moderate independence, 
quietly and honestly procured, is certainly every way prefer 
able even to immense possessions achieved by the wear and 
tear of mind and body so necessary to procure them. Yet 
there are very few individuals, let them be doing ever so 
well in the world, who are not always straining every nerve 
to do better; and this is one of the many causes why fail 
ures in business so frequently occur among us. The pres 
ent generation seem unwilling to "realize" by slow and sure 
degrees; but choose rather to set their whole hopes upon 
a single cast, which either makes or mars them forever! 

Gentle reader, do you remember Monsieur Poopoo? He 
used to keep a small toy-store in Chatham, near the corner 
of Pearl Street. You must recollect him, of course. He 
lived there for many years, and was one of the most polite 
and accommodating of shopkeepers. When a juvenile, you 

From The Little Frenchman and His Water Lots, with Othef 
Sketches of the Times (1839), by George Pope Morris. 



have bought tops and marbles of him a thousand times. 
To be sure you have; and seen his vinegar- visage lighted up 
with a smile as you flung him the coppers; and you have 
laughed at his little straight queue and his dimity breeches, 
and all the other oddities that made up the every-day ap 
parel of my little Frenchman. Ah, I perceive you recollect 
him now. 

Well, then, there lived Monsieur Poopoo ever since he 
came from "dear, delightful Paris," as he was wont to call 
the city of his nativity there he took in the pennies for 
his kickshaws there he laid aside five thousand dollars 
against a rainy day there he was as happy as a lark and 
there, in all human probability, he would have been to this 
very day, a respected and substantial citizen, had he been 
willing to "let well alone." But Monsieur Poopoo had 
heard strange stories about the prodigious rise in real es 
tate; and, having understood that most of his neighbors 
had become suddenly rich by speculating in lots, he in 
stantly grew dissatisfied with his own lot, forthwith deter 
mined to shut up shop, turn everything into cash, and set 
about making money in right-down earnest. No sooner 
said than done; and our quondam storekeeper a few days 
afterward attended an extensive sale of real estate, at the 
Merchants' Exchange. 

There was the auctioneer, with his beautiful and inviting 
lithographic maps all the lots as smooth and square and 
enticingly laid out as possible and there were the specula 
tors and there, in the midst of them, stood Monsieur 

"Here they are, gentlemen," said he of the hammer, "the 
most valuable lots ever offered for sale. Give me a bid for 

"One hundred each," said a bystander. 

"One hundred!" said the auctioneer, "scarcely enough to 
pay for the maps. One hundred going and fifty gone! 
Mr. H., they are yours. A noble purchase. You'll sell those 
same lots in less than a fortnight for fifty thousand dollars 

Monsieur Poopoo pricked up his ears at this, and was lost 


in astonishment. This was a much easier way certainly of 
accumulating riches than selling toys in Chatham Street, 
and he determined to buy and mend his fortune without 

The auctioneer proceeded in his sale. Other parcels were 
offered and disposed of, and all the purchasers were prom 
ised immense advantages for their enterprise. At last came 
a more valuable parcel than all the rest. The company 
pressed around the stand, and Monsieur Poopoo did the 

"I now offer you, gentlemen, these magnificent lots, de 
lightfully situated on Long Island, with valuable water privi 
leges. Property in fee title indisputable terms of sale, 
cash deeds ready for delivery immediately after the sale. 
How much for them? Give them a start at something. 
How much?" The auctioneer looked around; there were 
no bidders. At last he caught the eye of Monsieur Poopoo. 
"Did you say one hundred, sir? Beautiful lots valuable 
water privileges shall I say one hundred for you?" 

"Oui, monsieur; I will give you von hundred dollar a- 
piece, for de lot vid de valuarble vatare privalege; c'est qa" 

"Only one hundred apiece for these sixty valuable lots 
only one hundred going going going gone!" 

Monsieur Poopoo was the fortunate possessor. The auc 
tioneer congratulated him the sale closed and the com 
pany dispersed. 

"Pardonnez-moi, monsieur," said Poopoo, as the auc 
tioneer descended his pedestal, "you shall excusez-moi, if 
I shall go to votre bureau, your counting-house, ver quick 
to make every ting sure wid respec to de lot vid de valuarble 
vatare privalege. Von leetle bird in de hand he vorth two 
in de tree, c'est vrai eh?" 

"Certainly, sir." 

"Veil den, allons." 

And the gentlemen repaired to the counting-house, where 
the six thousand dollars were paid, and the deeds of the 
property delivered. Monsieur Poopoo put these carefully 
in his pocket, and as he was about taking his leave, the 
auctioneer made him a present of the lithographic outline 


of the lots, which was a very liberal thing on his part, con 
sidering the map was a beautiful specimen of that glorious 
art. Poopoo could not admire it sufficiently. There were 
,his sixty lots, as uniform as possible, and his little gray eyes 
sparkled like diamonds as they wandered from one end of 
the spacious sheet to the other. 

Poopoo 's heart was as light as a feather, and he snapped 
his fingers in the very wantonness of joy as he repaired to 
Delmonico's, and ordered the first good French dinner that 
had gladdened his palate since his arrival in America. 

After having discussed his repast, and washed it down 
with a bottle of choice old claret, he resolved upon a visit 
to Long Island to view his purchase. He consequently im 
mediately hired a horse and gig, crossed the Brooklyn ferry, 
and drove along the margin of the river to the Wallabout, 
the location in question. 

Our friend, however, was not a little perplexed to find his 
property. Everything on the map was as fair and even as 
possible, while all the grounds about him were as undulated 
as they could well be imagined, and there was an elbow of 
the East River thrusting itself quite into the ribs of the 
land, which seemed to have no business there. This puz 
zled the Frenchman exceedingly; and, being a stranger in 
those parts, he called to a farmer in an adjacent field. 

"Mon ami, are you acquaint vid dis part of de country 

"Yes, I was born here, and know every inch of it." 

"Ah, c'est bien, dat vill do," and the Frenchman got out 
of the gig, tied the horse, and produced his lithographic 

"Den maybe you vill have de kindness to show me de 
sixty lot vich I have bought, vid de valuarble vatare priva- 

The farmer glanced his eye over the paper. 

"Yes, sir, with pleasure; if you will be good enough to 
get into my boat, I will row you out to them!" 

"Vat dat you say, sure?" 

"My friend," said the farmer, "this section of Long Island 
has recently been bought up by the speculators of New York, 


and laid out for a great city; but the principal street is only 
visible at low tide. When this part of the East River is 
filled up, it will be just there. Your lots, as you will per 
ceive, are beyond it; and are now all under water." 

At first the Frenchman was incredulous. He could not 
believe his senses. As the facts, however, gradually broke 
upon him, he shut one eye, squinted obliquely at the heavens 
the river the farmer and then he turned away and 
squinted at them all over again! There was his purchase 
sure enough; but then it could not be perceived for there 
was a river flowing over it! He drew a box from his waist 
coat pocket, opened it, with an emphatic knock upon the 
lid, took a pinch of snuff and restored it to his waistcoat 
pocket as before. Poopoo was evidently in trouble, having 
"thoughts which often lie too deep for tears"; and, as his 
grief was also too big for words, he untied his horse, jumped 
into his gig, and returned to the auctioneer in hot haste. 

It was near night when he arrived at the auction-room 
his horse in a foam and himself in a fury. The auctioneer 
was leaning back in his chair, with his legs stuck out of a 
low window, quietly smoking a cigar after the labors of the 
day, and humming the music from the last new opera. 

"Monsieur, I have much plaisir to fin' you, chez vous, 
at home." 

"Ah, Poopoo! glad to see you. Take a seat, old boy." 

"But I shall not take de seat, sare." 

"No why, what's the matter?" 

"Oh, beaucoup de matter. I have been to see de gran lot 
vot you sell me to-day." 

"Well, sir, I hope you like your purchase?" 

"No, monsieur, I no like him." 

"I'm sorry for it; but there is no ground for your com 

"No, sare; dare is no ground at all de ground is all 

"You joke!" 

"I no joke. I nevare joke; je n'entends pas la raillerie, 
Sare, voulez-vous have de kindness to give me back de 
money vot I pay!" 


"Certainly not." 

"Den vill you be so good as to take de E?st River off de 
top of my lot?" 

"That's your business, sir, not mine." 

"Den I make von mauvaise affaire von gran mistake!" 

"I hope not. I don't think you have thrown your money 
away in the land." 

"No, sare; but I tro it avay in de vatare!" 

"That's not my fault." 

"Yes, sare, but it is your fault. You're von ver gran 
rascal to swindle me out of de V argent." 

"Hello, old Poopoo, you grow personal; and if you can't 
keep a civil tongue in your head, you must go out of my 

"Vare shall I go to, eh?" 

"To the devil, for aught I care, you foolish old French 
man!" said the auctioneer, waxing warm. 

"But, sare, I vill not go to de devil to oblige you!" re 
plied the Frenchman, waxing warmer. "You sheat me out 
of all de dollar vot I make in Shatham Street; but I vill 
not go to de devil for all dat. I vish you may go to de devil 
yourself you dem yankee-doo-dell, and I vill go and drown 
myself, tout de suite, right avay." 

"You couldn't make a better use of your water privileges, 
old boy!" 

"Ah, misericorde! Ah, mon dieu, je suis abime. I am 
ruin! I am done up! I am break all into ten sousan leetle 
pieces! I am von lame duck, and I shall vaddle across de 
gran ocean for Paris, vish is de only valuarble vatare priva- 
lege dat is left me a present!" 

Poor Poopoo was as good as his word. He sailed hi the 
next packet, and arrived in Paris almost as penniless as the 
day he left it. 

Should any one feel disposed to doubt the veritable cir 
cumstances here recorded, let him cross the East River to 

the Wallabout, and farmer J will row him out to the 

very place where the poor Frenchman's lots still remain 
under water. 


BY EDGAR ALLAN POE (1809-1849) 

IT was a chilly November afternoon. I had just consum 
mated an unusually hearty dinner, of which the dyspeptic 
truffe formed not the least important item, and was sitting 
alone in the dining-room with my feet upon the fender and 
at my elbow a small table which I had rolled up to the fire, 
and upon which were some apologies for dessert, with some 
miscellaneous bottles of wine, spirit, and liqueur. In the 
morning I had been reading Glover's Leonidas, Wilkie's Epi- 
goniad, Lamartine's Pilgrimage, Barlow's Columbiad, Tuck- 
erman's Sicily, and Griswold's Curiosities, I am willing to 
confess, therefore, that I now felt a little stupid. I made 
effort to arouse myself by frequent aid of Lafitte, and all 
failing, I betook myself to a stray newspaper in despair. 
Having carefully perused the column of "Houses to let," 
and the column of "Dogs lost," and then the columns of 
"Wives and apprentices runaway," I attacked with great 
resolution the editorial matter, and reading it from begin 
ning to end without understanding a syllable, conceived the 
possibility of its being Chinese, and so re-read it from the 
end to the beginning, but with no more satisfactory result. 
I was about throwing away in disgust 

This folio of four pages, happy work 
Which not even critics criticise, 

when I felt my attention somewhat aroused by the paragraph 
which follows: 

"The avenues to death are numerous and strange. A 
London paper mentions the decease of a person from a 
singular cause. He was playing at 'puff the dart,' which 

From The Columbian Magazine, October, 1844. 



is played with a long needle inserted in some worsted, and 
blown at a target through a tin tube. He placed the needle 
at the wrong end of the tube, and drawing his breath strongly 
to puff the dart forward with force, drew the needle into 
his throat. It entered the lungs, and in a few days killed 

Upon seeing this I fell into a great rage, without exactly 
knowing why. "This thing," I exclaimed, "is a contemptible 
falsehood a poor hoax the lees of the invention of some 
pitiable penny-a-liner, of some wretched concocter of acci 
dents in Cocaigne. These fellows knowing the extravagant 
gullibility of the age set their wits to work in the imagina 
tion of improbable possibilities, of odd accidents as they 
term them, but to a reflecting intellect (like mine, I added, 
in parenthesis, putting my forefinger unconsciously to the 
side of my nose), to a contemplative understanding such 
as I myself possess, it seems evident at once that the mar 
velous increase of late in these 'odd accidents' is by far the 
oddest accident of all. For my own part, I intend to believe 
nothing henceforward that has anything of the 'singular' 
about it." 

"Mein Gott, den, vat a vool you bees for dat!" replied 
one of the most remarkable voices I ever heard. At first 
I took it for a rumbling in my ears such as a man some 
times experiences when getting very drunk but upon sec 
ond thought, I considered the sound as more nearly resem 
bling that which proceeds from an empty barrel beaten with 
a big stick; and, in fact, this I should have concluded it to 
be, but for the articulation of the syllables and words. I 
am by no means naturally nervous, and the very few glasses 
of Lafitte which I had sipped served to embolden me a little, 
so that I felt nothing of trepidation, but merely uplifted my 
eyes with a leisurely movement and looked carefully around 
ihe room for the intruder. I could not, however, perceive 
fcny one at all. 

"Humph!" resumed the voice as I continued my survey, 
"you mus pe so dronk as de pig den for not zee me as I 
zit here at your zide." 

Hereupon I bethought me of looking immediately before 


my nose, and there, sure enough, confronting me at the 
table sat a personage nondescript, although not altogether 
indescribable. His body was a wine-pipe or a rum puncheon, 
or something of that character, and had a truly Falstaffian 
air. In its nether extremity were inserted two kegs, which 
seemed to answer all the purposes of legs. For arms there 
dangled from the upper portion of the carcass two tolerably 
long bottles with the necks outward for hands. All the 
head that I saw the monster possessed of was one of those 
Hessian canteens which resemble a large snuff-box with a 
hole in the middle of the lid. This canteen (with a funnel 
on its top like a cavalier cap slouched over the eyes) was 
set on edge upon the puncheon, with the hole toward my 
self; and through this hole, which seemed puckered up like 
the mouth of a very precise old maid, the creature was 
emitting certain rumbling and grumbling noises which he 
evidently intended for intelligible talk. 

"I zay," said he, "you mos pe dronk as de pig, vor zit 
dare and not zee me zit ere; and I zay, doo, you mos pe 
pigger vool as de goose, vor to dispelief vat iz print in de 
print. 'Tiz de troof dat it iz ebery vord ob it" 

"Who are you, pray?" said I with much dignity, although 
somewhat puzzled; "how did you get here? and what is it 
you are talking about?" 

"As vor ow I com'd ere," replied the figure, "dat iz none 
of your pizziness; and as vor vat I be talking apout, I be 
talk apout vat I tink proper; and as vor who I be, vy dat is 
de very ting I com'd here for to let you zee for yourself." 

"You are a drunken vagabond," said I, "and I shall ring 
the bell and order my footman to kick you into the street." 

"He! he! he!" said the fellow, "hu! hu! hu! dat you 
can't do." 

"Can't do!" said I, "what do you mean? I can't do 

"Ring de pell," he replied, attempting a grin with his little 
villainous mouth. 

Upon this I made an effort to get up in order to put my 
threat into execution, but the ruffian just reached across the 
table very deliberately, and hitting me a tap on the forehead 


with the neck of one of the long bottles, knocked me 
back into the armchair from which I had half arisen. I was 
utterly astounded, and for a moment was quite at a loss 
what to do. In the meantime he continued his talk. 

"You zee," said he, "it iz te bess vor zit still; and now 
you shall know who I pe. Look at me! zee! I am te Angel 
ov te Odd." 

"And odd enough, too," I ventured to reply; "but I was 
always under the impression that an angel had wings." 

"Te wing!" he cried, highly incensed, "vat I pe do mit 
te wing? Mein Gott! do you take me for a shicken?" 

"No oh, no!" I replied, much alarmed; "you are no 
chicken certainly not." 

"Well, den, zit still and pehabe yourself, or I'll rap you 
again mid me vist. It iz te shicken ab te wing, und te owl 
ab te wing, und te imp ab te wing, und te head-teuffel ab 
te wing. Te angel ab not te wing, and I am te Angel ov 
te Odd." 

"And your business with me at present is is " 

"My pizziness!" ejaculated the thing, "vy vat a low-bred 
puppy you mos pe vor to ask a gentleman und an angel 
apout his pizziness!" 

This language was rather more than I could bear, even 
from an angel; so, plucking up courage, I seized a salt 
cellar which lay within reach, and hurled it at the head of 
the intruder. Either he dodged, however, or my aim was 
inaccurate; for all I accomplished was the demolition of 
the crystal which protected the dial of the clock upon the 
mantelpiece. As for the Angel, he evinced his sense of my 
assault by giving me two or three hard, consecutive raps 
upon the forehead as before. These reduced me at once to 
submission, and I am almost ashamed to confess that, either 
through pain or vexation, there came a few tears into my 

"Mein Gott!" said the Angel of the Odd, apparently much 
softened at my distress; "mein Gott, te man is eder ferry 
dronk or ferry zorry. You mos not trink it so strong you 
mcs put te water in te wine. Here, trink dis, like a good 
veller, and don't gry now don't!" 


Hereupon the Angel of the Odd replenished my goblet 
(which was about a third full of port) with a colorless fluid 
that he poured from one of his hand-bottles. I observed 
that these bottles had labels about their necks, and that 
these labels were inscribed "Kirschenwasser." 

The considerate kindness of the Angel mollified me in no 
little measure; and, aided by the water with which he diluted 
my port more than once, I at length regained sufficient tem 
per to listen to his very extraordinary discourse. I cannot 
pretend to recount all that he told me, but I gleaned from 
what he said that he was a genius who presided over the 
contretemps of mankind, and whose business it was to bring 
about the odd accidents which are continually astonishing 
the skeptic. Once or twice, upon my venturing to express 
my total incredulity in respect to his pretensions, he grew 
very angry indeed, so that at length I considered it the 
wiser policy to say nothing at all, and let him have his own 
way. He talked on, therefore, at great length, while I merely 
leaned back in my chair with my eyes shut, and amused 
myself with munching raisins and filiping the stems about 
the room. But, by and by, the Angel suddenly construed 
this behavior of mine into contempt. He arose in a terrible 
passion, slouched his funnel down over his eyes, swore a 
vast oath, uttered a threat of some character, which I did not 
precisely comprehend, and finally made me a low bow and 
departed, wishing me, in the language of the archbishop in 
"Gil Bias," beaucoup de bonheur et un pen plus de bon sens. 

His departure afforded me relief. The very few glasses 
of Lafitte that I had sipped had the effect of rendering me 
drowsy, and I felt inclined to take a nap of some fifteen or 
twenty minutes, as is my custom after dinner. At six I had 
an appointment of consequence, which it was quite indis 
pensable that I should keep. The policy of insurance for 
my dwelling-house had expired the day before; and some 
dispute having arisen it was agreed that, at six, I should 
meet the board of directors of the company and settle the 
terms of a renewal. Glancing upward at the clock on the 
mantelpiece (for I felt too drowsy to take out my watch), I 
had the pleasure to find that I had still twenty-five minutes 


to spare. It was half-past five; I could easily walk to the 
insurance office in five minutes; and my usual siestas had 
never been known to exceed five-and-twenty. I felt suffi 
ciently safe, therefore, and composed myself to my slumbers 

Having completed them to my satisfaction, I again looked 
toward the timepiece, and was half inclined to believe in 
the possibility of odd accidents when I found that, instead 
of my ordinary fifteen or twenty minutes, I had been dozing 
only three; for it still wanted seven-and-twenty of the ap 
pointed hour. I betook myself again to my nap, and at 
length a second time awoke, when, to my utter amazement, 
it still wanted twenty-seven minutes of six. I jumped up 
to examine the clock, and found that it had ceased running. 
My watch informed me that it was half-past seven; and, of 
course, having slept two hours, I was too late for my ap 
pointment. "It will make no difference," I said: "I can call 
at the office in the morning and apologize; in the meantime 
what can be the matter with the clock?" Upon examining 
it I discovered that one of the raisin stems which I had 
been filiping about the room during the discourse of the 
Angel of the Odd had flown through the fractured crystal, 
and lodging, singularly enough, in the keyhole, with an end 
projecting outward, had thus arrested the revolution of 
the minute hand. 

"Ah!" said I, "I see how it is. This thing speaks for it 
self. A natural accident, such as will happen now and 

I gave the matter no further consideration, and at my 
usual hour retired to bed. Here, having placed a candle 
upon a reading stand at the bed head, and having made an 
attempt to peruse some pages of the Omnipresence of the 
Deity, I unfortunately fell asleep in less than twenty sec 
onds, leaving the light burning as it was. 

My dreams were terrifically disturbed by visions of the 
Angel of the Odd. Methought he stood at the foot of the 
couch, drew aside the curtains, and in the hollow, detestable 
tones of a rum puncheon, menaced me with the bitterest 
vengeance for the contempt with which I had treated him. 


He concluded a long harangue by taking off his funnel-cap, 
inserting the tube into my gullet, and thus deluging me with 
an ocean of Kirschenwasser, which he poured in a contin 
uous flood, from one of the long-necked bottles that stood 
him instead of an arm. My agony was at length insufferable, 
and I awoke just in time to perceive that a rat had run off 
with the lighted candle from the stand, but not in season 
to prevent his making his escape with it through the hole. 
Very soon a strong, suffocating odor assailed my nostrils; 
the house, I clearly perceived, was on fire. In a few min 
utes the blaze broke forth with violence, and in an incredibly 
brief period the entire building was wrapped in flames. All 
egress from my chamber, except through a window, was cut 
off. The crowd, however, quickly procured and raised a 
long ladder. By means of this I was descending rapidly, 
and in apparent safety, when a huge hog, about whose 
rotund stomach, and indeed about whose whole air and 
physiognomy, there was something which reminded me of 
the Angel of the Odd when this hog, I say, which hitherto 
had been quietly slumbering in the mud, took it suddenly 
into his head that his left shoulder needed scratching, and 
could find no more convenient rubbing-post than that af 
forded by the foot of the ladder. In an instant I was pre 
cipitated, and had the misfortune to fracture my arm. 

This accident, with the loss of my insurance, and with 
the more serious loss of my hair, the whole of which had been 
singed off by the fire, predisposed me to serious impressions, 
so that finally I made up my mind to take a wife. There 
was a rich widow disconsolate for the loss of her seventh 
husband, and to her wounded spirit I offered the balm of my 
vows. She yielded a reluctant consent to my prayers. 1 
knelt at her feet in gratitude and adoration. She blushed 
and bowed her luxuriant tresses into close contact with those 
supplied me temporarily by Grandjean. I know not how 
the entanglement took place but so it was. I arose with a 
shining pate, wigless; she in disdain and wrath, half-buried 
in alien hair. Thus ended my hopes of the widow by an 
accident which could not have been anticipated, to be sure* 
but which the natural sequence of events had brought about. 


Without despairing, however, I undertook the siege of a 
less implacable heart. The fates were again propitious for 
a brief period ; but again a trivial incident interfered. Meet 
ing my betrothed in an avenue thronged with the elite of 
the city, I was hastening to greet her with one of my best 
considered bows, when a small particle of some foreign mat 
ter lodging in the corner of my eye rendered me for the 
moment completely blind. Before I could recover my sight, 
the lady of my love had disappeared irreparably affronted 
at what she chose to consider my premeditated rudeness in 
passing her by ungreeted. While I stood bewildered at the 
suddenness of this accident (which might have happened, 
nevertheless, to any one under the sun), and while I still 
continued incapable of sight, I was accosted by the Angel 
of the Odd, who proffered me his aid with a civility which 
I had no reason to expect. He examined my disordered eye 
with much gentleness and skill, informed me that I had a 
drop in it, and (whatever a "drop" was) took it out, and 
afforded me relief. 

I now considered it high time to die (since fortune had 
so determined to persecute me), and accordingly made my 
way to the nearest river. Here, divesting myself of my 
clothes (for there is no reason why we cannot die as we were 
born), I threw myself headlong into the current; the sole 
witness of my fate being a solitary crow that had been se 
duced into the eating of brandy-saturated corn, and so 
had staggered away from his fellows. No sooner had I 
entered the water than this bird took it into his head to fly 
away with the most indispensable portion of my apparel. 
Postponing, therefore, for the present, my suicidal design, 
I just slipped my nether extremities into the sleeves of my 
coat, and betook myself to a pursuit of the felon with all 
the nimbleness which the case required and its circumstances 
would admit. But my evil destiny attended me still. As I 
ran at full speed, with my nose up in the atmosphere, and 
intent only upon the purloiner of my property, I suddenly 
perceived that my feet rested no longer upon terra firma; 
the fact is, I had thrown myself over a precipice, and should 
inevitably have been dashed to pieces but for my good 


fortune in grasping the end of a long guide-rope, which 
depended from a passing balloon. 

As soon as I sufficiently recovered my senses to compre 
hend the terrific predicament in which I stood, or rather 
hung, I exerted all the power of my lungs to make that 
predicament known to the aeronaut overhead. But for a 
long time I exerted myself in vain. Either the fool could 
not, or the villain would not perceive me. Meanwhile the 
machine rapidly soared, while my strength even more rap 
idly failed. I was soon upon the point of resigning myself 
to my fate, and dropping quietly into the sea, when my 
spirits were suddenly revived by hearing a hollow voice from 
above, which seemed to be lazily humming an opera air. 
Looking up, I perceived the Angel of the Odd. He was 
leaning, with his arms folded, over the rim of the car; and 
with a pipe in his mouth, at which he puffed leisurely, seemed 
to be upon excellent terms with himself and the universe 
I was too much exhausted to speak, so I merely regarded 
him with an imploring air. 

For several minutes, although he looked me full in the 
face, he said nothing. At length, removing carefully his 
meerschaum from the right to the left comer of his mouth, 
he condescended to speak. 

"Who pe you," he asked, "und what der teuffel you pe 
do dare?" 

To this piece of impudence, cruelty, and affectation, I 
could reply only by ejaculating the monosyllable "Help!" 

"Elp!" echoed the ruffian, "not I. Dare iz te pottle 
elp yourself, und pe tam'd!" 

With these words he let fall a heavy bottle of Kirschen- 
wasser, which, dropping precisely upon the crown of my 
head, caused me to imagine that my brains were entirely 
knocked out. Impressed with this idea I was about to relin 
quish my hold and give up the ghost with a good grace, 
when I was arrested by the cry of the Angel, who bade me 
hold on. 

" 'Old on!" he said: "don't pe in te 'urry don't. Will 
you pe take de odder pottle, or 'ave you pe got zober yet, 
and come to your zenzes?" 


I made haste, hereupon, to nod my head twice once 
in the negative, meaning thereby that I would prefer not 
taking the other bottle at present; and once in the affirma 
tive, intending thus to imply that I was sober and had posi 
tively come to my senses. By these means I somewhat 
softened the Angel. 

"Und you pelief, ten," he inquired, "at te last? You 
pelief, ten, in te possibility of te odd?" 

I again nodded my head in assent. 

"Und you ave pelief in me, te Angel of te Odd?" 

I nodded again. 

"Und you acknowledge tat you pe te blind dronk und te 

I nodded once more. 

"Put your right hand into your left preeches pocket, ten, 
in token ov your vull zubmizzion unto te Angel ov te 

This thing, for very obvious reasons, I found it quite im 
possible to do. In the first place, my left arm had been 
broken in my fall from the ladder, and therefore, had I let 
go my hold with the right hand I must have let go altogether. 
In the second place, I could have no breeches until I came 
across the crow. I was therefore obliged, much to my regret, 
to shake my head in the negative, intending thus to give 
the Angel to understand that I found it inconvenient, just 
at that moment, to comply with his very reasonable demand! 
No sooner, however, had I ceased shaking my head than 

"Go to der teuffel, ten!" roared the Angel of the Odd. 

In pronouncing these words he drew a sharp knife across 
the guide-rope by which I was suspended, and as we then 
happened to be precisely over my own house (which, during 
my peregrinations, had been handsomely rebuilt), it so oc 
curred that I tumbled headlong down the ample chimney 
and alit upon the dining-room hearth. 

Upon coming to my senses (for the fall had very thor 
oughly stunned me) I found it about four o'clock in the 
morning. I lay outstretched where I had fallen from the 
balloon. My head groveled in the ashes of an extinguished 
fire, while my feet reposed upon the wreck of a small table. 


overthrown, and amid the fragments of a miscellaneous 
dessert, intermingled with a newspaper, some broken 
glasses and shattered bottles, and an empty jug of the 
Schiedam Kirschenwasser. Thus revenged himself the 
Angel of tne Odd. 



MASTER WILLIAM HORNER came to our village to 
school when he was about eighteen years old: tall, 
lank, straight-sided, and straight-haired, with a mouth 
of the most puckered and solemn kind. His figure and move 
ments were those of a puppet cut out of shingle and jerked by 
a string; and his address corresponded very well with his 
appearance. Never did that prim mouth give way before 
a laugh. A faint and misty smile was the widest departure 
from its propriety, and this unaccustomed disturbance made 
wrinkles in the flat, skinny cheeks like those in the surface 
of a lake, after the intrusion of a stone. Master Homer 
knew well what belonged to the pedagogical character, and 
that facial solemnity stood hirjh on the list of indispensable 
qualifications. He had made up his mind before he left his 
father's house how he would look during the term. He had 
hot planned any smiles (knowing that he must "board 
round"), and it was not for ordinary occurrences to alter 
his arrangements; so that when he was betrayed into a relax 
ation of the muscles, it was "in such a sort" as if he was 
putting his bread and butter in jeopardy. 

Truly he had a grave time that first winter. The rod of 
power was new to him, and he felt it his "duty" to use it 
more frequently than might have been thought necessary 
by those upon whose sense the privilege had palled. Tears 

From The Gift for 1845, published late in 1844 Republished 
in the volume, Western Clearings (1845), by Caroline M. S. 



and sulky faces, and impotent fists doubled fiercely when his 
back was turned, were the rewards of his conscientiousness; 
and the boys and girls too were glad when working time 
came round again, and the master went home to help his 
father on the farm. 

But with the autumn came Master Horner again, dropping 
among us as quietly as the faded leaves, and awakening at 
least as much serious reflection. Would he be as self- 
sacrificing as before, postponing his own ease and comfort 
to the public good, or would he have become more seden 
tary, and less fond of circumambulating the school-room 
with a switch over his shoulder? Many were fain to hope 
he might have learned to smoke during the summer, an ac 
complishment which would probably have moderated his 
energy not a little, and disposed him rather to reverie than 
to action. But here he was, and all the broader-chested and 
stouter-armed for his labors in the harvest-field. 

Let it not be supposed that Master Horner was of a cruel 
and ogrish nature a babe-eater a Herod one who de 
lighted in torturing the helpless. Such souls there may be. 
among those endowed with the awful control of the ferule r 
but they are rare in the fresh and natural regions we de 
scribe. It is, we believe, where young gentlemen are to be 
crammed for college, that the process of hardening heart 
and skin together goes on most vigorously. Yet among the 
uneducated there is so high a respect for bodily strength, 
that it is necessary for the schoolmaster to show, first of 
all, that he possesses this inadmissible requisite for his place. 
The rest is more readily taken for granted. Brains he may 
have a strong arm he must have: so he proves the more 
important claim first. We must therefore make all due al 
lowance for Master Horner, who could not be expected to 
overtop his position so far as to discern at once the philos 
ophy of teaching. 

He was sadly brow-beaten during his first term of service 
by a great broad-shouldered lout of some eighteen years or 
so, who thought he needed a little more "schooling," but 
at the same time felt quite competent to direct the manner 
and measure of his attempts. 


"You'd ought to begin with large-hand, Joshuay," said 
Master Horner to this youth. 

"What should I want coarse-hand for?" said the disciple, 
with great contempt; "coarse-hand won't never do me no 
good. I want a fine-hand copy." 

The master looked at the infant giant, and did as he 
wished, but we say not with what secret resolutions. 

At another time, Master Horner, having had a hint from 
some one more knowing than himself, proposed to his elder 
scholars to write after dictation, expatiating at the same 
time quite floridly (the ideas having been supplied by the 
knowing friend), upon the advantages likely to arise from 
this practice, and saying, among other things, 

"It will help you, when you write letters, to spell the words 

"Pooh!" said Joshua, "spellin' ain't nothin'; let them that 
finds the mistakes correct 'em. I'm for every one's havin' a 
way of their own." 

"How dared you be so saucy to the master?" asked one 
of the little boys, after school. 

"Because I could lick him, easy," said the hopeful Joshua, 
who knew very well why the master did not undertake him 
on the spot. 

Can we wonder that Master Horner determined to make 
his empire good as far as it went? 

A new examination was required on the entrance into a 
second term, and, with whatever secret trepidation, the mas 
ter was obliged to submit. Our law prescribes examinations, 
but forgets to provide for the competency of the examiners; 
so that few better farces offer than the course of question 
and answer on these occasions. We know not precisely what 
were Master Horner's trials; but we have heard of a sharp 
dispute between the inspectors whether a-n-g-e-1 spelt angle 
or angel. Angle had it, and the school maintained that 
pronunciation ever after. Master Horner passed, and he 
was requested to draw up the certificate for the inspectors 
to sign, as one had left his spectacles at home, and the other 
had a bad cold, so that it was not convenient for either to 
write more than his name. Master Horner's exhibition of 


learning on this occasion did not reach us, but we 
know that it must have been considerable, since he stood the 

"What is orthography?" said an inspector once, in our 

The candidate writhed a good deal, studied the beams 
overhead and the chickens out of the window, and then 

"It is so long since I learnt the first part of the spelling- 
book, that I can't justly answer that question. But if I 
could just look it over, I guess I could." 

Our schoolmaster entered upon his second term with new 
courage and invigorated authority. Twice certified, who 
should dare doubt his competency? Even Joshua was civil, 
and lesser louts of course obsequious; though the girls took 
more liberties, for they feel even at that early age, that 
influence is stronger than strength. 

Could a young schoolmaster think of feruling a girl with 
her hair in ringlets and a gold ring on her finger? Impos 
sible and the immunity extended to all the little sisters and 
cousins; and there were enough large girls to protect all the 
feminine part of the school. With the boys Master Homer 
still had many a battle, and whether with a view to this, or 
as an economical ruse, he never wore his coat in school, 
saying it was too warm. Perhaps it was an astute attention 
to the prejudices of his employers, who love no man that 
does not earn his living by the sweat of his brow. 
The shirt-sleeves gave the idea of a manual-labor school in 
one sense at least. It was evident that the master 
worked, and that afforded a probability that the scholars 
worked too. 

Master Horner's success was most triumphant that win 
ter. A year's growth had improved his outward man ex 
ceedingly, filling out the limbs so that they did not remind 
you so forcibly of a young colt's, and supplying the cheeks 
with the flesh and blood so necessary where mustaches were 
not worn. Experience had given him a degree of confidence, 
and confidence gave him power. In short, people said the 
master had waked up; and so he had. He actually set 


about reading for improvement; and although at the end 
of the term he could not quite make out from his historical 
studies which side Hannibal was on, yet this is readily ex 
plained by the fact that he boarded round, and was obliged 
to read generally by firelight, surrounded by ungoverned 

After this, Master Homer made his own bargain. When 
schooltime came round with the following autumn, and the 
teacher presented himself for a third examination, such a 
test was pronounced no longer necessary; and the district 
consented to engage him at the astounding rate of sixteen 
dollars a month, with the understanding that he was to have 
a fixed home, provided he was willing to allow a dollar a 
week for it. Master Horner bethought him of the successive 
"killing- times," and consequent doughnuts of the twenty 
families in which he had sojourned the years before, and con 
sented to the exaction. 

Behold our friend now as high as district teacher can ever 
hope to be his scholarship established, his home stationary 
and not revolving, and the good behavior of the community 
insured by the fact that he, being of age, had now a farm to 
retire upon in case of any disgust. 

Master Horner was at once the preeminent beau of the 
neighborhood, spite of the prejudice against learning. He 
brushed his hair straight up in front, and wore a sky-blue 
ribbon for a guard to his silver watch, and walked as if the 
tall heels of his blunt boots were egg-shells and not leather. 
Yet he was far from neglecting the duties of his place. He 
was beau only on Sundays and holidays; very schoolmaster 
the rest of the time. 

It was at a "spelling-school" that Master Horner first 
met the educated eyes of Miss Harriet Bangle, a young lady 
visiting the Engleharts in our neighborhood. She was from 
one of the towns in Western New York, and had brought 
with her a variety of city airs and graces somewhat cari 
catured, set off with year-old French fashions much traves 
tied. Whether she had been sent out to the new country to 
try, somewhat late, a rustic chance for an establishment, or 
whether her company had been found rather trying at home, 


we cannot say. The view which she was at some pains to 
make understood was, that her friends had contrived this 
method of keeping her out of the way of a desperate lover 
whose addresses were not acceptable to them. 

If it should seem surprising that so high-bred a visitor 
should be sojourning in the wild woods, it must be remem 
bered that more than one celebrated Englishman and not a 
few distinguished Americans have farmer brothers in the 
western country, no whit less rustic in their exterior and 
manner of life than the plainest of their neighbors. When 
these are visited by their refined kinsfolk, we of the woods 
catch glimpses of the gay world, or think we do. 

That great medicine hath 
With its tinct gilded 

many a vulgarism to the satisfaction of wiser heads thaa 

Miss Bangle's manner bespoke for her that high consider 
ation which she felt to be her due. Yet she condescended to 
be amused by the rustics and their awkward attempts at 
gaiety and elegance; and, to say truth, few of the village 
merry-makings escaped her, though she wore always the air 
of great superiority. 

The spelling-school is one of the ordinary winter amuse 
ments in the country. It occurs once in a fortnight, or so, 
and has power to draw out all the young people for miles 
round, arrayed in their best clothes and their holiday be 
havior. When all is ready, umpires are elected, and after 
these have taken the distinguished place usually occupied 
by the teacher, the young people of the school choose the 
two best scholars to head the opposing classes. These lead 
ers choose their followers from the mass, each calling a name 
in turn, until all the spellers are ranked on one side or the 
other, lining the sides of the room, and all standing. The 
schoolmaster, standing too, takes his spelling-book, and gives 
a placid yet awe-inspiring look along the ranks, remarking 
that he intends to be very impartial, and that he shall give 
out nothing that is not in the spelling-book. For the first 


half hour or so he chooses common and easy words, that the 
spirit of the evening may not be damped by the too early 
thinning of the classes. .When a word is missed, the blun 
derer has to sit down, and be a spectator only for the rest 
of the evening. At certain intervals, some of the best speak 
ers mount the platform, and "speak a piece," which is gen 
erally as declamatory as possible. 

The excitement of this scene is equal to that afforded by 
any city spectacle whatever; and towards the close of the 
evening, when difficult and unusual words are chosen to con 
found the small number who still keep the floor, it becomes 
scarcely less than painful. When perhaps only one or two 
remain to be puzzled, the master, weary at last of his task, 
though a favorite one, tries by tricks to put down those 
whom he cannot overcome in fair fight. If among all the 
curious, useless, unheard-of words which may be picked out 
of the spelling-book, he cannot find one which the scholars 
have not noticed, he gets the last head down by some quip 
or catch. "Bay" will perhaps be the sound; one scholar 
spells it "bey," another, "bay," while the master all the 
time means "ba," which comes within the rule, being in the 

It was on one of these occasions, as we have said, that 
Miss Bangle, having come to the spelling-school to get ma 
terials for a letter to a female friend, first shone upon Mr. 
Horner. She was excessively amused by his solemn air and 
puckered mouth, and set him down at once as fair game. 
Yet she could not help becoming somewhat interested in the 
spelling-school, and after it was over found she had not 
stored up half as many of the schoolmaster's points as she 
intended, for the benefit of her correspondent. 

In the evening's contest a young girl from some few miles' 
distance, Ellen Kingsbury, the only child of a substantial 
farmer, had been the very last to sit down, after a prolonged 
effort on the part of Mr. Horner to puzzle her, for the credit 
of his own school. She blushed, and smiled, and blushed 
again, but spelt on, until Mr. Homer's cheeks were crimson 
with excitement and some touch of shame that he should be 
baffled at his own weapons. At length, either by accident or 


design, Ellen missed a word, and sinking into her Mat was 
numbered with the slain. 

In the laugh and talk which followed (for with tiie con 
clusion of the spelling, all form of a public assembly van- 
ishes), our schoolmaster said so many gallant things to his 
fair enemy, and appeared so much animated by the excite 
ment of the contest, -that Miss Bangle began to look upon 
him with rather more respect, and to feel somewhat indig 
nant that a little rustic like Ellen should absorb the entire 
attention of the only beau. She put on, therefore, her most 
gracious aspect, and mingled in the circle ; caused the school 
master to be presented to her, and did her best to fascinate 
him by certain airs and graces which she had found success 
ful elsewhere. What game is too small for the close-woven 
net of a coquette? 

Mr. Horner quitted not the fair Ellen until he had handed 
her into her father's sleigh; and he then wended his way 
homewards, never thinking that he ought to have escorted 
Miss Bangle to her uncle's, though she certainly waited a 
little while for his return. 

We must not follow into particulars the subsequent inter 
course of our schoolmaster with the civilized young lady. 
All that concerns us is the result of Miss Bangle's benevolent 
designs upon his heart. She tried most sincerely to find its 
vulnerable spot, meaning no doubt to put Mr. Horner on his 
guard for the future; and she was unfeignedly surprised to 
discover that her best efforts were of no avail. She con 
cluded he must have taken a counter-poison, and she was 
not slow in guessing its source. She had observed the pe 
culiar fire which lighted up his eyes in the presence of Ellen 
Kingsbury, and she bethought her of a plan which would 
ensure her some amusement at the expense of these imperti 
nent rustics, though in a manner different somewhat from 
her original more natural idea of simple coquetry. 

A letter was written to Master Horner, purporting to come 
from Ellen Kingsbury, worded so artfully that the school 
master understood at once that it was intended to be a secret 
communication, though its ostensible object was an inquiry 
about some ordinary affair. This was laid in Mr. Homer'* 


desk before he came to school, with an intimation that he 
might leave an answer in a certain spot on the following 
morning. The bait took at once, for Mr. Horner, honest 
and true himself, and much smitten with the fair Ellen, was 
too happy to be circumspect. The answer was duly placed, 
and as duly carried to Miss Bangle by her accomplice, Joe 
Englehart, an unlucky pickle who "was always for ill, never 
for good," and who found no difficulty in obtaining the let 
ter unwatched, since the master was obliged to be in school 
at nine, and Joe could always linger a few minutes later. 
This answer being opened and laughed at, Miss Bangle had 
only to contrive a rejoinder, which being rather more par 
ticular in its tone than the original communication, led on 
yet again the happy schoolmaster, who branched out into 
sentiment, "taffeta phrases, silken terms precise," talked of 
hills and dales and rivulets, and the pleasures of friendship, 
And concluded by entreating a continuance of the corre 

Another letter and another, every one more flattering and 
encouraging than the last, almost turned the sober head of 
our poor master, and warmed up his heart so effectually that 
he could scarcely attend to his business. The spelling-schools 
were remembered, however, and Ellen Kingsbury made one 
of the merry company; but the latest letter had not forgot 
ten to caution Mr. Horner not to betray the intimacy; so 
that he was in honor bound to restrict himself to the lan 
guage of the eyes hard as it was to forbear the single whis 
per for which he would have given his very dictionary. So 
their meeting passed off without the explanation which 
Miss Bangle began to fear would cut short her benevolent 

The correspondence was resumed with renewed spirit, and 
carried on until Miss Bangle, though not overburdened with 
sensitiveness, began to be a little alarmed for the conse 
quences of her malicious pleasantry. She perceived that she 
herself had turned schoolmistress, and that Master Horner, 
instead of being merely her dupe, had become her pupil too; 
for the style of his replies had been constantly improving 
and the earnest and manly tone which he assumed promised 


any thing but the quiet, sheepish pocketing of injury and 
insult, upon which she had counted. In truth, there was 
something deeper than vanity in the feelings with which he 
regarded Ellen Kingsbury. The encouragement which he 
supposed himself to have received, threw down the barrier 
which his extreme bashfulness would have interposed be 
tween himself and any one who possessed charms enough 
to attract him; and we must excuse him if, in such a case, 
he did not criticise the mode of encouragement, but rather 
grasped eagerly the proffered good without a scruple, or one 
which he would own to himself, as to the propriety with 
which it was tendered. He was as much in love as a man 
can be, and the seriousness of real attachment gave both 
grace and dignity to his once awkward diction. 

The evident determination of Mr. Horner to come to the 
point of asking papa brought Miss Bangle to a very awk 
ward pass. She had expected to return home before mat 
ters had proceeded so far, but being obliged to remain some 
time longer, she was equally afraid to go on and to leave 
off, a denouement being almost certain to ensue in either 
case. Things stood thus when it was time to prepare for 
the grand exhibition which was to close the winter's term. 

This is an affair of too much magnitude to be fully de 
scribed in the small space yet remaining in which to bring 
out our veracious history. It must be "slubber'd o'er in 
haste" its important preliminaries left to the cold imagi 
nation of the reader its fine spirit perhaps evaporating for 
want of being embodied in words. We can only say that 
our master, whose school-life was to close with the term, 
labored as man never before labored in such a cause, reso 
lute to trail a cloud of glory after him when he left us. Not 
q, candlestick nor a curtain that was attainable, either by 
coaxing or bribery, was left in the village; even the only 
piano, that frail treasure, was wiled away and placed in one 
corner of the rickety stage. The most splendid of all the 
pieces in the Columbian Orator, the American Speaker, 

the but we must not enumerate in a word, the most 

astounding and pathetic specimens of eloquence within ken 
of either teacher or scholars, had been selected for the oc- 


casion; and several young ladies and gentlemen, whose 
academical course had been happily concluded at an earner 
period, either at our own institution or at some other, had 
consented to lend themselves to the parts, and their choicest 
decorations for the properties, of the dramatic portion of 
the entertainment. 

Among these last was pretty Ellen Kingsbury, who had 
agreed to personate the Queen of Scots, in the garden scene 
from Schiller's tragedy of Mary Stuart; and this circum 
stance accidentally afforded Master Horner the opportunity 
he had so long desired, of seeing his fascinating correspon 
dent without the presence of peering eyes. A dress-rehear 
sal occupied the afternoon before the day of days, and the 
pathetic expostulations of the lovely Mary 

Mine all doth hang my life my destiny 
Upon my words upon the force of tears ! 

aided by the long veil, and the emotion which sympathy 
brought into Ellen's countenance, proved too much for the 
enforced prudence of Master Horner. When the rehearsal 
was over, and the heroes and heroines were to return home, 
it was found that, by a stroke of witty invention not new in 
the country, the harness of Mr. Kingsbury's horses had 
been cut in several places, his whip hidden, his buffalo-skins 
spread on the ground, and the sleigh turned bottom upwards 
on them. This afforded an excuse for the master's borrow 
ing a horse and sleigh of somebody, and claiming the privi 
lege of taking Miss Ellen home, while her father returned 
with only Aunt Sally and a great bag of bran from the mil! 
companions about equally interesting. 

Here, then, was the golden opportunity so long wished 
for! Here was the power of ascertaining at once what is 
never quite certain until we have heard it from warm, living 
lips, whose testimony is strengthened by glances in which 
the whole soul speaks or seems to speak. The time was 
short, for the sleighing was but too fine; and Father Kings- 
bury, having tied up his harness, and collected his scattered 
equipment, was driving so close behind that there was no 


possibility of lingering for a moment. Yet many moments 
were lost before Mr. Homer, very much in earnest, and all 
unhackneyed in matters of this sort, could find a word in 
which to clothe his new-found feelings. The horse seemed 
to fly the distance was half past and at length, in abso 
lute despair of anything better, he blurted out at once what 
he had determined to avoid a direct reference to the cor 

A game at cross-purposes ensued; exclamations and ex 
planations, and denials and apologies filled up the time 
which was to have made Master Horner so blest. The light 
from Mr. Kingsbury's windows shone upon the path, and 
the whole result of this conference so longed for, was a 
burst of tears from the perplexed and mortified Ellen, who 
sprang from Mr. Horner's attempts to detain her, rushed 
into the house without vouchsafing him a word of adieu, 
and left him standing, no bad personification of Orpheus,, 
after the last hopeless flitting of his Eurydice. 

"Won't you 'light, Master?" said Mr. Kingsbury. 

"Yes no thank you good evening," stammered pool 
Master Horner, so stupefied that even Aunt Sally called 
him "a dummy." 

The horse took the sleigh against the fence, going home, 
and threw out the master, who scarcely recollected the acci 
dent; while to Ellen the issue of this unfortunate driva 
was a sleepless night and so high a fever in the morning that 
our village doctor was called to Mr. Kingsbury's before 

Poor Master Horner's distress may hardly be imagined. 
Disappointed, bewildered, cut to the quick, yet as much in 
love as ever, he could only in bitter silence turn over in his 
thoughts the issue of his cherished dream; now persuading 
himself that Ellen's denial was the effect of a sudden bash 
fulness, now inveighing against the fickleness of the sex, 
as all men do when they are angry with any one woman in 
particular. But his exhibition must go on in spite of wretch 
edness; and he went about mechanically, talking of c'irtains 
and candles, and music, and attitudes, and pauses, and em 
phasis, looking like a somnambulist whose "eyes are open 


but their sense is shut," and often surprising those con 
cerned by the utter unfitness of his answers. 

It was almost evening when Mr. Kingsbury, having dis 
covered, through the intervention of the Doctor and Aun* 
Sally the cause of Ellen's distress, made his appearance be 
fore the unhappy eyes of Master Horner, angry, solemn and 
determined; taking the schoolmaster apart, and requiring 
an explanation of his treatment of his daughter. In vain did 
the perplexed lover ask for time to clear himself, declare his 
respect for Miss Ellen and his willingness to give every ex 
planation which she might require; the father was not to be 
put off ; and though excessively reluctant, Mr. Horner had no 
resource but to show the letters which alone could account 
for his strange discourse to Ellen. He unlocked his desk, 
slowly and unwillingly, while the old man's impatience was 
such that he could scarcely forbear thrusting in his own 
hand to snatch at the papers which were to explain this 
vexatious mystery. What could equal the utter confusion 
of Master Horner and the contemptuous anger of the father, 
when no letters were to be found! Mr. Kingsbury was too 
passionate to listen to reason, or to reflect for one moment 
upon the irreproachable good name of the schoolmaster. He 
went away in inexorable wrath; threatening every prac 
ticable visitation of public and private justice upon the 
head of the offender, whom he accused of having attempted 
to trick his daughter into an entanglement which should 
result in his favor. 

A doleful exhibition was this last one of our thrice- 
approved and most worthy teacher! Stern necessity and 
the power of habit enabled him to go through with most of 
his part, but where was the proud fire which had lighted up 
his eye on similar occasions before? He sat as one of three 
judges before whom the unfortunate Robert Emmet was 
dragged in his shirt- sleeves, by two fierce-looking officials; 
but the chief judge looked far more like a criminal than 
did the proper representative. He ought to have personated 
Othello, but was obliged to excuse himself from raving for 
"the handkerchief! the handkerchief!" on the rather anom 
alous plea of a bad cold. Mary Stuart being "i' the 


bond," was anxiously expected by the impatient crowd, and 
it was with distress amounting to agony that the master 
was obliged to announce, in person, the necessity of omitting 
that part of the representation, on account of the illness 
of one of the young ladies. 

Scarcely had the words been uttered, and the speaker 
hidden his burning face behind the curtain, when Mr. 
Kingsbury started up in his place amid the throng, to give 
a public recital of his grievance no uncommon resort in 
the new country. He dashed at once to the point; and be 
fore some friends who saw the utter impropriety of his pro 
ceeding could persuade him to defer his vengeance, he had 
laid before the assembly some three hundred people, per 
haps his own statement of the case. He was got out at 
last, half coaxed, half hustled; and the gentle public only 
half understanding what had been set forth thus unexpect 
edly, made quite a pretty row of it. Some clamored loudly 
for the conclusion of the exercises; others gave utterances 
in no particularly choice terms to a variety of opinions as 
to the schoolmaster's proceedings, varying the note occa 
sionally by shouting, "The letters! the letters! why don't 
you bring out the letters?" 

At length, by means of much rapping on the desk by the 
president of the evening, who was fortunately a "popular" 
character, order was partially restored; and the favorite 
scene from Miss More's dialogue of David and Goliath was 
announced as the closing piece. The sight of little David 
in a white tunic edged with' red tape, with a calico scrip 
and a very primitive-looking sling; and a huge Goliath dec 
orated with a militia belt and sword, and a spear like a 
weaver's beam indeed, enchained everybody's attention. 
Even the peccant schoolmaster and his pretended letters 
were forgotten, while the sapient Goliath, every time that 
he raised the spear, in the energy of his declamation, to 
thump upon the stage, picked away fragments of the low 
ceiling, which fell conspicuously on his great shock of black 
hair. At last, with the crowning threat, up went the spear 
for an astounding thump, and down came a large piece of 
xhe ceiling, and with it a shower of letters. 


The confusion that ensued beggars all description. A 
general scramble took place, and in another moment twenty 
pairs of eyes, at least, were feasting on the choice phrases 
lavished upon Mr. Horner. Miss Bangle had sat through 
the whole previous scene, trembling for herself, although 
she had, as she supposed, guarded cunningly against ex 
posure. She had needed no prophet to tell her what must 
be the result of a tete-a-tete between Mr. Horner and Ellen; 
and the moment she saw them drive off together, she in 
duced her imp to seize the opportunity of abstracting the 
whole parcel of letters from Mr. Homer's desk; which he 
did by means of a sort of skill which comes by nature to 
such goblins; picking the lock by the aid of a crooked nail, 
as neatly as if he had been born within the shadow of the 

But magicians sometimes suffer severely from the malice 
with which they have themselves inspired their familiars. 
Joe Englehart having been a convenient tool thus far, 
thought it quite time to torment Miss Bangle a little; so, 
having stolen the letters at her bidding, he hid them on his 
own account, and no persuasions of hers could induce him to 
reveal this important secret, which he chose to reserve as a 
rod in case she refused him some intercession with his father, 
or some other accommodation, rendered necessary by his 
mischievous habits. 

He had concealed the precious parcels in the unfloored 
loft above the school-room, a place accessible only by means 
of a small trap-door without staircase or ladder; and here 
he meant to have kept them while it suited his purposes, 
but for the untimely intrusion of the weaver's beam. 

Miss Bangle had sat through all, as we have said, thinking 
the letters safe, yet vowing vengeance against her confed 
erate for not allowing her to secure them by a satisfactory 
conflagration; and it was not until she heard her own name 
Whispered through the crowd, that she was awakened to her 
true situation. The sagacity of the low creatures whom she 
had despised showed them at once that the letters must be 
hers, since her character had been pretty shrewdly guessed, 
and the handwriting wore a more practised air than is usual 


among females in the country. This was first taken for 
granted, and then spoken of as an acknowledged fact. 

The assembly moved like the heavings of a troubled sea. 
Everybody felt that this was everybody's business. "Put 
her out!" was heard from more than one rough voice near 
the door, and this was responded to by loud and angry mur 
murs from within. 

Mr. Englehart, not waiting to inquire into the merits of 
the case in this scene of confusion, hastened to get his family 
out as quietly and as quickly as possible, but groans and 
hisses followed his niece as she hung half-fainting on his 
arm, quailing completely beneath the instinctive indignation 
of the rustic public. As she passed out, a yell resounded 
among the rude boys about the door, and she was lifted 
into a sleigh, insensible from terror. She disappeared from 
that evening, and no one knew the time of her final de 
parture for "the east." 

Mr. Kingsbury, who is a just man when he is not in a 
passion, made all the reparation in his power for his harsh 
and ill-considered attack upon the master; and we believe 
that functionary did not show any traits of implacability of 
character. At least he was seen, not many days after, sit 
ting peaceably at tea with Mr. Kingsbury, Aunt Sally, and 
Miss Ellen; and he has since gone home to build a house 
upon his farm. And people do say, that after a few months 
more, Ellen will not need Miss Bangle's intervention if she 
should see fit to correspond with the schoolmaster. 


BY ELIZA LESLIE (1787-1858) 

MRS. MORLAND, a polished and accomplished woman, 
was the widow of a distinguished senator from 
one of the western states, of which, also, her hus 
band had twice filled the office of governor. Her daugh 
ter having completed her education at the best boarding- 
school in Philadelphia, and her son being about to graduate 
at Princeton, the mother had planned with her children a 
tour to Niagara and the lakes, returning by way of Boston. 
On leaving Philadelphia, Mrs. Morland and the delighted 
Caroline stopped at Princeton to be present at the annual 
commencement, and had the happiness of seeing their beloved 
Edward receive his diploma as bachelor of arts; after hearing 
him deliver, with great applause, an oration on the beauties 
of the American character. College youths are very prone to 
treat on subjects that imply great experience of the world. 
But Edward Morland was full of kind feeling for everything 
and everybody ; and his views of life had hitherto been tinted 
with a perpetual rose-color. 

Mrs. Morland, not depending altogether upon the celeb 
rity of her late husband, and wishing that her children 
should see specimens of the best society in the northern 
cities, had left home with numerous letters of introduction. 
But when they arrived at New York, she found to her great 
regret, that having unpacked and taken out her small travel 
ing desk, during her short stay in Philadelphia, she had 
strangely left it behind hi the closet of her room at the 
hotel. In this desk were deposited all her letters, except 
two which had been offered to her by friends in Philadel 
phia. The young people, impatient to see the wonders of 

From Godey's Lady's Book, December, 1846. 



Niagara, had entreated her to stay but a day or two in the 
city of New York, and thought these two letters would be 
quite sufficient for the present. In the meantime she wrote 
back to the hotel, requesting that the missing desk should 
be forwarded to New York as soon as possible. 

On the morning after their arrival at the great com 
mercial metropolis of America, the Morland family took a 
carriage to ride round through the principal parts of the 
city, and to deliver their two letters at the houses to which 
they were addressed, and which were both situated in the 
region that lies between the upper part of Broadway and 
the North River. In one of the most fashionable streets 
they found the elegant mansion of Mrs. St. Leonard; but 
on stopping at the door, were informed that its mistress 
was not at home. They then left the introductory letter 
(which they had prepared for this mischance, by enclosing 
it in an envelope with a card), and proceeding to another 
street considerably farther up, they arrived at the dwelling 
of the Watkinson family, to the mistress of which the other 
Philadelphia letter was directed. It was one of a large 
block of houses all exactly alike, and all shut up from top to 
bottom, according to a custom more prevalent in Nevi 
York than in any other city. 

Here they were also unsuccessful; the servant who came 
to the door telling them that the ladies were particularly 
engaged and could see no company. So they left their sec 
ond letter and card and drove off, continuing their ride till 
they reached the Croton water works, which they quitted 
the carriage to see and admire. On returning to the hotel, 
with the intention after an hour or two of rest to go out 
again, and walk till near dinner-time, they found waiting 
them a note from Mrs. Watkinson, expressing her regret 
that she had not been able to see them when they called; 
and explaining that her family duties always obliged her to 
deny herself the pleasure of receiving morning visitors, and 
that her servants had general orders to that effect. But 
she requested their company for that evening (naming nine 
o'clock as the hour), and particularly desired an immediate 


"I suppose," said Mrs. Morland, "she intends asking 
some of her friends to meet us, in case we accept the in 
vitation; and therefore is naturally desirous of a reply as 
soon as possible. Of course we will not keep her in sus 
pense. Mrs. Denham, who volunteered the letter, assured 
me that Mrs. Watkinson was one of the most estimable 
women in New York, and a pattern to the circle in which 
she moved. It seems that Mr. Denham and Mr. Watkin 
son are connected in business. Shall we go?" 

The young people assented, saying they had no doubt of 
passing a pleasant evening. 

The billet of acceptance having been written, it was sent 
off immediately, entrusted to one of the errand-goers be 
longing to the hotel, that it might be received in advance of 
the next hour for the dispatch-post and Edward Morland 
desired the man to get into an omnibus with the note that 
no time might be lost in delivering it. "It is but right" 
said he to his mother "that we should give Mrs. Watkin 
son an ample opportunity of making her preparations, and 
sending round to invite her friends." 

"How considerate you are, dear Edward" said Caro 
line "always so thoughtful of every one's convenience. 
Your college friends must have idolized you." 

"No" said Edward "they called me a prig." Just 
then a remarkably handsome carriage drove up to the pri 
vate door of the hotel. From it alighted a very elegant 
woman, who in a few moments was ushered into the draw 
ing-room by the head waiter, and on his designating Mrs. 
Morland's family, she advanced and gracefully announced 
herself as Mrs. St. Leonard. This was the lady at whose 
house they had left the first letter of introduction. She 
expressed regret at not having been at home when they 
called; but said that on finding their letter, she had imme 
diately come down to see them, and to engage them for 
the evening. "Tonight" said Mrs. St. Leonard "I ex 
pect as many friends as I can collect for a summer party. 
The occasion is the recent marriage of my niece, who with 
her husband has just returned from their bridal excursion, 
and they will be soon on their way to their residence in 


Baltimore. I think I can promise you an agreeable even 
ing, as I expect some very delightful people, with whom I 
shall be most happy to make you acquainted." 

Edward and Caroline exchanged glances, and could not 
refrain from looking wistfully at their mother, on whose 
countenace a shade of regret was very apparent. After a 
short pause she replied to Mrs. St. Leonard "I am truly 
sorry to say that we have just answered in the affirmative 
a previous invitation for this very evening." 

"I am indeed disappointed" said Mrs. St. Leonard, who 
had been looking approvingly at the prepossessing appear 
ance of the two young people. "Is there no way in which 
you can revoke your compliance with this unfortunate first 
invitation at least, I am sure, it is unfortunate for me. 
What a vexatious contretemps that I should have chanced 
to be out when you called; thus missing the pleasure of 
seeing you at once, and securing that of your society for 
this evening? The truth is, I was disappointed in some 
of the preparations that had been sent home this morning, 
and I had to go myself and have the things rectified, and 
was detained away longer than I expected. May I ask to 
whom you are engaged this evening? Perhaps I know 
the lady if so, I should be very much tempted to go and 
beg you from her." 

"The lady is Mrs. John Watkinson" replied Mrs. Mor- 
land "most probably she will invite some of her friends 
to meet us." 

"That of course" answered Mrs. St. Leonard "I am 
really very sorry and I regret to say that I do not know 
her at all." 

"We shall have to abide by our first decision," said Mrs. 
Morland. "By Mrs. Watkinson, mentioning in her note the 
hour of nine, it is to be presumed she intends asking some 
other company. I cannot possibly disappoint her. I can 
speak feelingly as to the annoyance (for I have known it 
by my own experience) when after inviting a number of my 
friends to meet some strangers, the strangers have sent an 
excuse almost at the eleventh hour. I think no induce 
ments, however strong, could tempt me to do so myself." 


"I confess that you are perfectly right," said Mrs. St. 
Leonard. "I see you must go to Mrs. Watkinson. But 
can you not divide the evening, by passing a part of it 
with her and then finishing with me?" 

At this suggestion the eyes of the young people sparkled, 
for they had become delighted with Mrs. St. Leonard, and 
rmagined that a party at her house must be every 
ivay charming. Also, parties were novelties to both of 

"If possible we will do so," answered Mrs. Morland, 
"and with what pleasure I need not assure you. We leave 
New York to-morrow, but we shall return this way in Sep 
tember, and will then be exceedingly happy to see more of 
Mrs. St. Leonard." 

After a little more conversation Mrs. St. Leonard took 
her leave, repeating her hope of still seeing her new friends 
at her house that night; and enjoining them to let her know 
as soon as they returned to New York on their way 

Edward Morland handed her to her carriage, and then 
joined his mother and sister in their commendations of Mrs. 
St. Leonard, with whose exceeding beauty were united a 
countenance beaming with intelligence, and a manner that 
put every one at their ease immediately. 

"She is an evidence," said Edward, "how superior our 
women of fashion are to those of Europe." 

"Wait, my dear son," said Mrs. Morland. "till you have 
been in Europe, and had an opportunity of forming an opin 
ion on that point (as on many others) from actual obser 
vation. For my part, I believe that in all civilized countries 
the upper classes of people are very much alike, at least in 
their leading characteristics." 

"Ah! here comes the man that was sent to Mrs. Watkin 
son," said Caroline Morland. "I hope he could not find 
the house and has brought the note back with him. We 
shall then be able to go at first to Mrs. St. Leonard's, and 
pass the whole evening there." 

The man reported that he had found the house, and had 
delivered the note into Mrs. Watkinson's own hands, as 


she chanced to be crossing the entry when the door was 
opened; and that she read it immediately, and said "Very 

"Are you certain that you made no mistake in the house," 
said Edward, "and that you really did give it to Mrs. Wat 

"And it's quite sure I am, sir," replied the man, "when I 
first came over from the ould country I lived with them 
awhile, and though when she saw me to-day, she did 
not let on that she remembered my doing that same, she 
could not help calling me James. Yes, the rale words she 
said when I handed her the billy-dux was, 'Very well, 
James.' " 

"Come, come," said Edward, when they found themselves 
alone, "let us look on the bright side. If we do not find 
a large party at Mrs. Watkinson's, we may in all proba 
bility meet some very agreeable people there, and enjoy the 
feast of reason and the flow of soul. We may find the 
Watkinson house so pleasant as to leave it with regret even 
for Mrs. St. Leonard's." 

"I do not believe Mrs. Watkinson is in fashionable so 
ciety," said Caroline, "or Mrs. St. Leonard would have 
known her. I heard some of the ladies here talking last 
evening of Mrs. St. Leonard, and I found from what they 
said that she is among the elite of the elite." 

"Even if she is," observed Mrs. Morland, "are polish of 
manners and cultivation of mind confined exclusively to 
persons of that class?" 

"Certainly not," said Edward, "the most talented and re 
fined youth at our college, and he in whose society I found 
the greatest pleasure, was the son of a bricklayer." 

In the ladies' drawing-room, after dinner, the Morlands 
heard a conversation between several of the female guests, 
who all seemed to know Mrs. St. Leonard very well by 
reputation, and they talked of her party that was to "come 
off" on this evening. 

"I hear," said one lady, "that Mrs. St. Leonard is to 
have an unusual number of lions." 

She then proceeded to name a gallant general, with his 


elegant wife and accomplished daughter; a celebrated com 
mander in the navy; two highly distinguished members of 
Congress, and even an ex-president. Also several of the 
most eminent among the American literati, and two first- 
rate artists. 

Edward Morland felt as if he could say, "Had I three 
ears I'd hear thee." 

"Such a woman as Mrs. St. Leonard can always com 
mand the best lions that are to be found," observed another 

"And then," said a third, "I have been told that she has 
such exquisite taste in lighting and embellishing her always 
elegant rooms. And her supper table, whether for summer 
or winter parties, is so beautifully arranged; all the viands 
are so delicious, and the attendance of the servants so per 
fect and Mrs. St. Leonard does the honors with so much 
ease and tact." 

"Some friends of mine that visit her," said a fourth lady, 
"describe her parties as absolute perfection. She always 
manages to bring together those persons that are best fitted 
to enjoy each other's conversation. Still no one is over 
looked or neglected. Then everything at her reunions is 
so well proportioned she has just enough of music, and 
just enough of whatever amusement may add to the pleas 
ure of her guests; and still there is no appearance of design 
or management on her part." 

"And better than all," said the lady who haJ spoken first, 
"Mrs. St. Leonard is one of the kindest, most generous, and 
most benevolent of women she does good in every possible 

"I can listen no longer," said Caroline to Edward, rising 
to change her seat. "If I hear any more I shall absolutely 
hate the Watkinsons. How provoking that they should 
have sent us the first invitation. If we had only thought 
of waiting till we could hear from Mrs. St. Leonard!" 

"For shame, Caroline," said her brother, "how can you 
talk so of persons you have never seen, and to whom you 
ought to feel grateful for the kindness of their invitation; 
even if it has interfered with another party, that I must 


confess seems to offer unusual attractions. Now I have a 
presentiment that we shall find the Watkinson part of the 
evening very enjoyable." 

As soon as tea was over, Mrs. Morland and her daughter 
repaired to their toilettes. Fortunately, fashion as well as 
good taste, has decided that, at a summer party, the cos 
tume of the ladies should never go beyond an elegant sim 
plicity. Therefore our two ladies in preparing for their in 
tended appearance at Mrs. St. Leonard's, were enabled to 
attire themselves in a manner that would not seem out of 
place in the smaller company they expected to meet at the 
Watkinsons. Over an under-dress of lawn, Caroline Mor 
land put on a white organdy trimmed with lace, and dec 
orated with bows of pink ribbon. At the back of her head 
was a wreath of fresh and beautiful pink flowers, tied with 
a similar ribbon. Mrs. Morland wore a black grenadine 
over a satin, and a lace cap trimmed with White. 

It was but a quarter past nine o'clock when their car 
riage stopped at the Watkinson door. The front of the 
house looked very dark. Not a ray gleamed through the 
Venetian shutters, and the glimmer beyond the fan-light 
over the door was almost imperceptible. After the coach 
man had rung several times, an Irish girl opened the door, 
cautiously (as Irish girls always do), and admitted them 
into the entry, where one light only was burning in a branch 
lamp. "Shall we go upstairs?" said Mrs. Morland. "And 
what for would ye go upstairs?" said the girl in a pert 
tone. "It's all dark there, and there's no preparations. Ye 
can lave your things here a-hanging on the rack. It is a 
party ye're expecting? Blessed are them what expects noth 

The sanguine Edward Morland looked rather blank at 
this intelligence, and his sister whispered to him, "Well get 
off to Mrs. St. Leonard's as soon as we possibly can. When 
did you tell the coachman to come for us?" 

"At half past ten," was the brother's reply. 

"Oh! Edward, Edward!" she exclaimed, "And I dare 
say he will not be punctual. He may keep us here till 


"Courage, mes enfants," said their mother, "et parlez plus 

The girl then ushered them into the back parlor, saying, 
"Here's the company." 

The room was large and gloomy. A checquered mat cov 
ered the floor, and all the furniture was encased in striped 
calico covers, and the lamps, mirrors, etc,, concealed under 
green gauze. The front parlor was entirely dark, and in 
the back apartment was no other light than a shaded lamp 
on a large centre table, round which was assembled a circle 
of children of all sizes and ages. On a backless, cushionless 
sofa sat Mrs. Watkinson, and a young lady, whom she in 
troduced as her daughter Jane. And Mrs. Morland in re 
turn presented Edward and Caroline. 

"Will you take the rocking-chair, ma'am?" inquired Mrs. 

Mrs. Morland declining the offer, the hostess took it her 
self, and see-sawed on it nearly the whole time. It was 
3, very awkward, high-legged, crouch-backed rocking-chair, 
and shamefully unprovided with anything in the form of a 

"My husband is away, at Boston, on business," said Mrs. 
Watkinson. "I thought at first, ma'am, I should not be able 
to ask you here this evening, for it is not our way to have 
company in his absence; but my daughter Jane over-per 
suaded me to send for you." 

"What a pity," thought Caroline. 

"You must take us as you find us, ma'am," continued 
Mrs. Watkinson. "We use no ceremony with anybody; and 
our rule is never to put ourselves out of the way. We do 
not give parties [looking at the dresses of the ladies]. Our 
first duty is to our children, and we cannot waste our sub 
stance on fashion and folly. They'll have cause to thank 
us for it when we die." 

Something like a sob was heard from the centre table, 
at which the children were sitting, and a boy was seen to 
hold his handkerchief to his face. 

"Joseph, my child," said his mother, "do not cry. You 
have no idea, ma'am, what an extraordinary boy that is. 


You see how the bare mention of such a thing as our deaths 
has overcome him." 

There was another sob behind the handkerchief, and the 
Morlands thought it now sounded very much like a smoth 
ered laugh. 

"As I was saying, ma'am," continued Mrs. Watkinson, 
"we never give parties. We leave all sinful things to tihe 
vain and foolish. My daughter Jane has been telling me, 
that she heard this morning of a party that is going on to 
night at the widow St. Leonard's. It is only fifteen years 
since her husband died. He was carried off with a three 
days' illness, but two months after they were married. I 
have had a domestic that lived with them at the time, so I 
know all about it. And there she is now, living in an ele 
gant house, and riding in her carriage, and dressing and 
dashing, and giving parties, and enjoying life, as she calls it. 
Poor creature, how I pity her! Thank heaven, nobody that 
I know goes to her parties. If they did I would never wish 
to see them again in my house. It is an encouragement 
to folly and nonsense and folly and nonsense are sinful. 
Do not you think so, ma'am?" 

"If carried too lar they may certainly become so," replied 
Mrs. Morland. 

"We have heard," said Edward, "that Mrs. St. Leonard, 
though one of the ornaments of the gay world, has a kind 
heart, a beneficent spirit and a liberal hand." 

"I know very little about her," replied Mrs. Watkinson, 
drawing up her head, "and I have not the least desire to 
know any more. It is well she has no children; they'd be 
lost sheep if brought up in her fold. For my part, ma'am," 
she continued, turning to Mrs. Morland, "I am quite satis 
fied with the quiet joys of a happy home. And no mother 
has the least business with any other pleasures. My in 
nocent babes know nothing about plays, and balls, and 
parties; and they never shall. Do they look as if they had 
been accustomed to a life of pleasure?" 

They certainly did not! for when the Morlands took a 
glance at them, they thought they had never seen youthful 
faces that were less gay, and indeed less prepossessing, 


There was not a good feature or a pleasant expression among 
them all. Edward Morland recollected his having often 
read "that childhood is always lovely." But he saw that 
the juvenile Watkinsons were an exception to the rule. 

"The first duty of a mother is to her children," repeated 
Mrs. Watkinson. "Till nine o'clock, my daughter Jane and 
myself are occupied every evening in hearing the lessons 
that they have learned for to-morrow's school. Before that 
hour we can receive no visitors, and we never have company 
to tea, as that would interfere too much with our duties. 
We had just finished hearing these lessons when you ar 
rived. Afterwards the children are permitted to indulge 
themselves in rational play, for I permit no amusement that 
is not also instructive. My children are so well trained, 
that even when alone their sports are always serious." 

Two of the boys glanced slyly at each other, with what 
Edward Morland comprehended as an expression of pitch- 
penny and marbles. 

"They are now engaged at their game of astronomy," con 
tinued Mrs. Watkinson. "They have also a sort of geog 
raphy cards, and a set of mathematical cards. It is a 
blessed discovery, the invention of these educationary 
games; so that even the play-time of children can be turned 
to account. And you have no idea, ma'am, how they enjoy 

Just then the boy Joseph rose from the table, and stalk 
ing up to Mrs. Watkinson, said to her, "Mamma, please 
to whip me." 

At this unusual request the visitors looked much amazed, 
and Mrs. Watkinson replied to him, "Whip you, my best 
Joseph for what cause? I have not seen you do anything 
wrong this evening, and you know my anxiety induces me 
to watch my children all the time." 

"You could not see me," answered Joseph, "for I have 
not done anything very wrong. But I have had a bad 
thought, and you know Mr. Ironrule says that a fault 
imagined is just as wicked as a fault committed." 

"You see, ma'am, what a good memory he has," said Mrs. 
Watkinson aside to Mrs. Morland. "But my best Joseph, 


you make your mother tremble. What fault have you 
imagined? What was your bad thought?" 

"Ay," said another boy, "what's your thought like?" 

"My thought," said Joseph, "was 'Confound all astron 
omy, and I could see the man hanged that made this 
game.' " 

"Oh! my child," exclaimed the mother, stopping her ears> 
"I am indeed shocked. I am glad you repented so imme 

"Yes," returned Joseph, "but I am afraid my repentance 
won't last. If I am not whipped, I may have these bad 
thoughts whenever I play at astronomy, and worse still at 
the geography game. Whip me, ma, and punish me as I 
deserve. There's the rattan in the corner: I'll bring it to 
you myself." 

"Excellent boy!" said his mother. "You know I always 
pardon my children when they are so candid as to confess 
their faults." 

"So you do," said Joseph, "but a whipping will cure me 

"I cannot resolve to punish so conscientious a child," said 
Mrs. Watkinson. 

"Shall I take the trouble off your hands?" inquired Ed 
ward, losing all patience in his disgust at the sanctimonious 
hypocrisy of this young Blifil. "It is such a rarity for a 
boy to request a whipping, that so remarkable a desire 
ought by all means to be gratified." 

Joseph turned round and made a face at him. 

"Give me the rattan," said Edward, half laughing, and 
offering to take it out of his hand. "I'll use it to your full 

The boy thought it most prudent to stride off and return 
to the table, and ensconce himself among his brothers and 
sisters; some of whom were staring with stupid surprise; 
others were whispering and giggling in the hope of seeing 
Joseph get a real flogging. 

Mrs. Watkinson having bestowed a bitter look on Ed 
ward, hastened to turn the attention of his mother to some 
thing else. "Mrs. Morland," said she, "allow me to intro- 


duce you to my youngest hope." She pointed to a sleepy 
boy about five years old, who with head thrown back and 
mouth wide open, was slumbering in his chair. 

Mrs. Watkinson's children were of that uncomfortable 
species who never go to bed; at least never without all man 
ner of resistance. All her boasted authority was inadequate 
to compel them; they never would confess themselves sleepy; 
always wanted to "sit up," and there was a nightly 
scene of scolding, coaxing, threatening and manoeuvring to 
get them off. 

"I declare," said Mrs. Watkinson, "dear Benny is almost 
asleep. Shake him up, Christopher. I want him to speak 
a speech. His school-mistress takes great pains in teaching 
her little pupils to speak, and stands up herself and shows 
tlhem how." 

The child having been shaken up hard (two or three 
others helping Christopher), rubbed his eyes and began to 
whine. His mother went to him, took him on her lap, 
hushed him up, and began to coax him. This done, she 
stood him on his feet before Mrs. Morland, and desired him 
to speak a speech for the company. The child put his 
thumb into his mouth, and remained silent. 

"Ma," said Jane Watkinson, "you had better tell him 
what speech to speak." 

"Speak Cato or Plato," said his mother. "Which do you 
call it? Come now, Benny how does it begin? 'You are 
quite right and reasonable, Plato.' That's it." 

"Speak Lucius," said his sister Jane. "Come now, Benny 
say 'your thoughts are turned on peace.' " 

The little boy looked very much as if they were not, and 
as if meditating an outbreak. 

"No, no!" exclaimed Christopher, "let him say Hamlet. 
Come now, Benny 'To be or not to be.' " 

"It ain't to be at all," cried Benny, "and I won't speak 
the least bit of it for any of you. I hate that speech!" 

"Only see his obstinacy," said the solemn Joseph. "And 
is he to be given up to?" 

"Speak anything, Benny," said Mrs. Watkinson, "any 
thing so that it is only a speech." 


All the Watkinson voices now began to clamor violentl> 
at the obstinate child "Speak a speech! speak a speech! 
speak a speech!" But they had no more effect than the 
reiterated exhortations with which nurses confuse the poor 
heads of babies, when they require them to "shake a day- 
day shake a day-day!" 

Mrs. Morland now interfered, and begged that the sleepy 
little boy might be excused; on which he screamed out that 
"he wasn't sleepy at all, and would not go to bed ever." 

"I never knew any of my children behave so before," said 
Mrs. Watkinson. "They are always models of obedience, 
ma'am. A look is sufficient for them. And I must say 
that they have in every way profited by the education we 
are giving them. It is not our way, ma'am, to waste our 
money in parties and fooleries, and fine furniture and fine 
clothes, 'and rich food, and all such abominations. Our first 
duty is to our children, and to make them learn everything 
that is taught in the schools. If they go wrong, it will not 
be for want of education. Hester, my dear, come and talk 
to Miss Morland in French." 

Hester (unlike her little brother that would not speak a 
speech) stepped boldly forward, and addressed Caroline 
Morland with: "Parlez-vous Fran$ais, mademoiselle? Com 
ment se va madame votre mere? Aimez-vous la musique? 
Aimez-vous la danse? Bon jour bon soir bon repos. 

To this tirade, uttered with great volubility, Miss Mor 
land made no other reply than, "Out je comprens." 

"Very well, Hester very well indeed," said Mrs. Wat 
kinson. "You see, ma'am," turning to Mrs. Morland, "how 
very fluent she is in French; and she has only been learning 
eleven quarters." 

After considerable whispering between Jane and her 
mother, the former withdrew, and sent in by the Irish girl a 
waiter with a basket of soda biscuit, a pitcher of water, and 
some glasses. Mrs. Watkinson invited her guests to con 
sider themselves at home and help themselves freely, saying: 
"We never let cakes, sweetmeats, confectionery, or any such 
things enter the house, as they would be very unwholesome 


for the children, and it would be sinful to put temptation 
in their way. I am sure, ma'am, you will agree with me 
that the plainest food is the best for everybody. People 
that want nice things may go to parties for them; but they 
will never get any with me." 

When the collation was over, and every child provided 
with a biscuit, Mrs. Watkinson said to Mrs. Morland: "Now, 
ma'am, you shall have some music from my daughter Jane, 
who is one of Mr. Bangwhanger's best scholars." 

Jane Watkinson sat down to the piano and commenced a 
powerful piece of six mortal pages, which she played out 
of time and out of tune; but with tremendous force of hands; 
notwithstanding which, it had, however, the good effect of 
putting most of the children to sleep. 

To the Morlands the evening had seemed already five 
hours long. Still it was only half past ten when Jane was 
in the midst of her piece. Ttie guests had all tacitly deter 
mined that it would be best not to let Mrs. Watkinson know 
their intention to go directly from her house to Mrs. St. 
Leonard's party; and the arrival of their carriage would 
have been the signal of departure, even if Jane's piece had 
not reached its termination. They stole glances at the clock 
on the mantel. It wanted but a quarter of eleven, when 
Jane rose from the piano, and was congratulated by her 
mother on the excellence of her music. Still no carriage was 
heard to stop; no doorbell was heard to ring. Mrs. Morland 
expressed her fears that the coachman had forgotten to come 
for them. 

"Has he been paid for bringing you here?" asked Mrs. 

"I paid him when we came to the door," said Edward. 
"I thought perhaps he might want the money for some pur 
pose before he came for us." 

"That was very kind in you, sir," said Mrs, Watkinson, 
"but not very wise. There's no dependence on any coach 
man; and perhaps as he may be sure of business enough 
this rainy night, he may never come at all being already 
paid for bringing you here." 

Now, the truth was 'that the coachman had come at the 


appointed time, but the noise of Jane's piano had prevented 
his arrival being heard in the back parlor. The Irish girl 
had gone to the door when be rang the bell, and recognized 
in him what she called "an ould friend." Just then a lady 
and gentleman who had been caught in the rain came run 
ning along, and seeing a carriage drawing up at a door, the 
gentleman inquired of the driver if he could not take them 
to Rutgers Place. The driver replied that he had just come 
for two ladies and a gentleman whom he had brought from 
the Astor House. 

"Indeed and Patrick," said the girl who stood at the door, 
"if I was you I'd be after making another penny to-night. 
Miss Jane is pounding away at one of her long music pieces, 
and it won't be over before you have time to get to Rutgers 
and back again. And if you do make them wait awhile, 
Where's the harm? They've a dry roof over their heads, 
and I warrant it's not the first waiting they've ever had in 
their lives; and it won't be the last neither." 

"Exactly so," said the gentleman; and regardless of the 
propriety of first sending to consult the persons who had 
engaged the carriage, he told his wife to step in, and follow 
ing her instantly himself, they drove away to Rutgers Place. 

Reader, if you were ever detained in a strange house by 
the non-arrival of your carriage, you will easily understand 
the excessive annoyance of finding that you are keeping a 
family out of their beds beyond their usual hour. And in 
this case, there was a double grievance; the guests being 
all impatience to get off to a better place. The children, all 
crying when wakened from their sleep, were finally taken to 
bed by two servant maids, and Jane Watkinson, who never 
came back again. None were left but Hester, the great 
French scholar, who, being one of those young imps that 
seem to have the faculty of living without sleep, sat bolt 
upright with her eyes wide open, watching the uncomfortable 

The Morlands felt as if they could bear it no longer, and 
Edward proposed sending for another carriage to the nearest 
livery stable. 

"We don't keep a man now," said Mrs. Watkinson, whc 


sat nodding in the rocking-chair, attempting now and then 
a snatch of conversation, and saying "ma'am" still more fre 
quently than usual. "Men servants are dreadful trials, 
ma'am, and we gave them up three years ago. And I don't 
know how Mary or Katy are to go out this stormy night in 
search of a livery stable." 

"On no consideration could I allow the women to do so," 
replied Edward. "If you will oblige me by the loan of an 
umbrella, I will go myself." 

Accordingly he set out on this business, but was unsuc 
cessful at two livery stables, the carriages being all out. At 
last he found one, and was driven in it to Mr. Watkinson's 
house, where his mother and sister were awaiting him, all 
quite ready, with their calashes and shawls on. They gladly 
took their leave; Mrs. Watkinson rousing herself to hope 
they had spent a pleasant evening, and that they would 
come and pass another with her on their return to New York. 
In such cases how difficult it is to reply even with what are 
called "words of course." 

A kitchen lamp was brought to light them to the door, 
the entry lamp having long since been extinguished. Fortu 
nately the rain had ceased ; the stars began to reappear, and 
the Morlands, when they found themselves in the carriage 
and on their way to Mrs. St. Leonard's, felt as if they could 
breathe again. As may be supposed, they freely discussed 
the annoyances of the evening; but now those troubles were 
over they felt rather inclined to be merry about them. 

"Dear mother," said Edward, "how I pitied you for hav 
ing to endure Mrs. Watkinson's perpetual 'ma'aming' and 
'ma'aming'; for I know you dislike the word." 

"I wish," said Caroline, "I was not so prone to be taken 
with ridiculous recollections. But really to-night I could 
not get that old foolish child's play out of my head 

Here come three knights out of Spain 
A-courting of your daughter Jane." 

"/ shall certainly never be one of those Spanish knights," 
said Edward. "Her daughter Jane is in no danger of being 


ruled by any 'flattering tongue' of mine. But what a shame 
for us to be talking of them in this manner." 

They drove to Mrs. St. Leonard's, hoping to be yet in 
time to pass half an hour there; though it was now near 
twelve o'clock and summer parties never continue to a very 
late hour. But as they came into the street in which she 
lived they were met by a number of coaches on their way 
home, and on reaching the door of her brilliantly lighted 
mansion, they saw the last of the guests driving off in the 
last of the carriages, and several musicians coming down 
the steps with their instruments in their hands. 

"So there has been a dance, then!" sighed Caroline. "Oh, 
what we have missed! It is really too provoking." 

"So it is," said Edward; "but remember that to-morrovr 
morning we set off for Niagara." 

"I will leave a note for Mrs. St. Leonard," said his 
mother, "explaining that we were detained at Mrs. Watkin- 
son's by our coachman disappointing us. Let us console 
ourselves with the hope of seeing more of this lady on our 
return. And now, dear Caroline, you must draw a moral 
from the untoward events of to-day. When you are mis 
tress of a house, and wish to show civility to strangers, let 
the invitation be always accompanied with a frank disclo 
sure of what they are to expect. And if you cannot con 
veniently invite company to meet them, tell them at once 
that you will not insist on their keeping their engagement 
with you if anything offers afterwards that they think they 
would prefer; provided only that they apprize you in time 
of the change in their plan." 

"Oh, mamma," replied Caroline, "you may be sure I shall 
always take care not to betray my visitors into an engage 
ment which they may have cause to regret, particularly if 
they are strangers whose time is limited. I shall certainly, 
as you say, tell them not to consider themselves bound to 
me if they afterwards receive an invitation which promises 
them more enjoyment. It will be a long while before I for* 
get the Watkinson evening." 


In my mind's eye, Horatio. 

PRUE and I do not entertain much ; our means forbid it. 
In truth, other people entertain for us. We enjoy that 
hospitality of which no account is made. We see the 
show, and hear the music, and smell the flowers of great fes 
tivities, tasting as it were the drippings from rich dishes. Our 
own dinner service is remarkably plain, our dinners, even on 
state occasions, are strictly hi keeping, and almost our only 
guest is Titbottom. I buy a handful of roses as I come up 
from .the office, perhaps, and Prue arranges them so prettily in 
a glass dish for the centre of the table that even when I 
have hurried out to see Aurelia step into her carriage to 
go out to dine, I have thought that the bouquet she carried 
was not more beautiful because it was more costly. I grant 
that it was more harmonious with her superb beauty and 
her rich attire. And I have no doubt that if Aurelia knew 
the old man, whom she must have seen so often watching 
her, and his wife, who ornaments her sex with as much sweet 
ness, although with less splendor, than Aurelia herself, she 
would also acknowledge that the nosegay of roses was as 
fine and fit upon their table as her own sumptuous bouquet 
is for herself. I have that faith in the perception of that 
lovely lady. It is at least my habit I hope I may say, my 
nature, to believe the best of people, rather than the worst. 
If I thought that all this sparkling setting of beauty this 
fine fashion these blazing jewels and lustrous silks and airy 
gauzes, embellished with gold-threaded embroidery and 
wrought in a thousand exquisite elaborations, so that I 

From Putnam's Monthly, December, 1854. Republished in the 
volume, Prue and I (1856), by George William Curtis (Harper 
& Brothers). 



cannot see one of those lovely girls pass me by without 
thanking God for the vision if I thought that this was all, 
and that underneath her lace flounces and diamond brace 
lets Aurelia was a sullen, selfish woman, then I should turn 
sadly homewards, for I should see that her jewels were 
flashing scorn upon the object they adorned, and that her 
laces were of a more exquisite loveliness than the woman 
whom they merely touched with a superficial grace. It 
would be like a gaily decorated mausoleum bright to see, 
but silent and dark within. 

"Great excellences, my dear Prue," I sometimes allow 
myself to say, "lie concealed in the depths of character, like 
pearls at the bottom of the sea. Under the laughing, glanc 
ing surface, how little they are suspected! Perhaps love is 
nothing else than the sight of them by one person. Hence 
every man's mistress is apt to be an enigma to everybody 
else. I have no doubt that when Aurelia is engaged, people 
will say that she is a most admirable girl, certainly; but 
they cannot understand why any man should be in love 
with her. As if it were at all necessary that they should! 
And her lover, like a boy who finds a pearl in the public 
street, and wonders as much that others did not see it as that 
he did, will tremble until he knows his passion is returned; 
feeling, of course, that the whole world must be in love with 
this paragon who cannot possibly smile upon anything so 
unworthy as he." 

"I hope, therefore, my dear Mrs. Prue," I continue to say 
to my wife, who looks up from her work regarding me with 
pleased pride, as if I were such an irresistible humorist, "you 
will allow me to believe that the depth may be calm although 
the surface is dancing. If you tell me that Aurelia is but a 
giddy girl, I shall believe that you think so. But I shall 
know, all the while, what profound dignity, and sweetness, 
and peace lie at the foundation of her character." 

I say such things to Titbottom during the dull season at 
the office. And I have known him sometimes to reply with 
a kind of dry, sad humor, not as if he enjoyed the joke, 
but as if the joke must be made, that he saw no reason why 
I should be dull because the season was so. 


"And what do I know of Aurelia or any other girl?" he 
says to me with that abstracted air. "I, whose Aurelias were 
of another century and another zone." 

Then he falls into a silence which it seems quite profane 
to interrupt. But as we sit upon our high stools at the 
desk opposite each other, I leaning upon my elbows and 
looking at him; he, with sidelong face, glancing out of the 
window, as if it commanded a boundless landscape, instead 
of a dim, dingy office court, I cannot refrain from saying: 


He turns slowly, and I go chatting on a little too loqua 
cious, perhaps, about those young girls. But I know that 
Titbottom regards such an excess as venial, for his sadness 
is so sweet that you could believe it 'the reflection of a smile 
from long, long years ago. 

One day, after I had been talking for a long time, and 
we had put up our books, and were preparing to leave, he 
stood for some time by the window, gazing with a drooping 
intentness, as if he really saw something more than the dark 
court, and said slowly: 

"Perhaps you would have different impressions of things 
if you saw them through my spectacles." 

There was no change in his expression. He still looked 
from the window, and I said: 

"Titbottom, I did not know that you used glasses. I 
have never seen you wearing spectacles." 

"No, I don't often wear them. I am not very fond of 
looking through them. But sometimes an irresistible neces 
sity compels me to put them on, and I cannot help seeing." 
Titbottom sighed. 

"Is it so grievous a fate, to see?" inquired I. 

"Yes; through my spectacles," he said, turning slowly and 
looking at me with wan solemnity. 

It grew dark as we stood in the office talking, and taking 
our hats we went out together. The narrow street of busi 
ness was deserted. The heavy iron shutters were gloomily 
closed over the windows. From one or two offices struggled 
the dim gleam of an early candle, by whose light some per 
plexed accountant sat belated, and hunting for his error. A 


careless clerk passed, whistling. But the great tide of life 
had ebbed. We heard its roar far away, and the sound stole 
into that silent street like the murmur of the ocean into an 
inland dell. 

"You will come and dine with us, Titbottom?" 

He assented by continuing to walk with me, and I think 
we were both glad when we reached the house, and Prue 
came to meet us, saying: 

"Do you know I hoped you would bring Mr. Titbottom 
to dine?" 

Titbottom smiled gently, and answered: 

"He might have brought his spectacles with him, and I 
have been a happier man for it." 

Prue looked a little puzzled. 

"My dear," I said, "you must know that our friend, Mr. 
Titbottom, is the happy possessor of a pair of wonderful 
spectacles. I have never seen them, indeed; and, from what 
he says, I should be rather afraid of being seen by them. 
Most short-sighted persons are very glad to have the help 
of glasses; but Mr. Titbottom seems to find very little pleas 
ure in his." 

"It is because they make him too far-sighted, perhaps," 
interrupted Prue quietly, as she took the silver soup-ladle 
from the sideboard. 

We sipped our wine after dinner, and Prue took her 
work. Can a man be too far-sighted? I did not ask the 
question aloud. The very tone hi which Prue had spoken 
convinced me that he might. 

"At least," I said, "Mr. Titbottom will not refuse to tell 
us the history of his mysterious spectacles. I have known 
plenty of magic in eyes" and I glanced at the tender blue 
eyes of Prue "but I have not heard of any enchanted 

"Yet you must have seen the glass in which your wife 
looks every morning, and I take it that glass must be daily 
enchanted." said Titbottom, with a bow of quaint respect to 
my wife. 

I do not think I have seen such a blush upon Prue's 
cheek since well, since a great many years ago. 


"I will gladly tell you the history of my spectacles," began 
Titbottom. "It is very simple; and I am not at all sure 
that a great many other people have not a pair of the same 
kind. I have never, indeed, heard of them by the gross, 
like those of our young friend, Moses, the son of the Vicar 
of Wakefield. In fact, I think a gross would be quite enough 
to supply the world. It is a kind of article for which the 
demand does not increase with use. If we should all wear 
spectacles like mine, we should never smile any more. Oh 
I am not quite sure we should all be very happy." 

"A very important difference," said Prue, counting her 

"You know my grandfather Titbottom was a West In 
dian. A large proprietor, and an easy man, he basked in 
the tropical sun, leading his quiet, luxurious life. He lived 
Jiuch alone, and was what people call eccentric, by which I 
understand that he was very much himself, and, refusing the 
influence of other people, they had their little revenges, and 
called him names. It is a habit not exclusively tropical. I 
think I have seen the same thing even in this city. But he 
was greatly beloved my bland and bountiful grandfather. 
He was so large-hearted and open-handed. He was so 
friendly, and thoughtful, and genial, that even his jokes had 
the adr of graceful benedictions. He did not seem to grow 
old, and he was one of those who never appear to have been 
very young. He flourished in a perennial maturity, an im 
mortal middle-age. 

"My grandfather lived upon one of the small islands, St. 
Kit's, perhaps, and his domain extended to the sea. His 
house, a rambling West Indian mansion, was surrounded 
with deep, spacious piazzas, covered with luxurious lounges, 
among which one capacious chair was his peculiar seat. They 
tell me he used sometimes to sit there for the whole day, his 
great, soft, brown eyes fastened upon the sea, watching the 
specks of sails that flashed upon the horizon, while the evan 
escent expressions chased each other over his placid face, as 
if it reflected the calm and changing sea before him. His 
morning costume was an ample dressing-gown of gorgeously 
flowered silk, and his morning was very apt to last all day. 


He rarely read, but he would pace the great piazza for hours, 
with his hands sunken in the pockets of his dressing-gown, 
and an air of sweet reverie, which any author might be very 
happy to produce. 

" Society, of course, he saw little. There was some slight 
apprehension that if he were bidden to social entertainments 
he might forget his coat, or arrive without some other essen 
tial part of his dress; and there is a sly tradition in the Tit- 
bottom family that, having been invited to a ball in honor 
of the new governor of the island, my grandfather Titbottom 
sauntered into the hall towards midnight, wrapped in the 
gorgeous flowers of his dressing-gown, and with his hands 
buried in the pockets, as usual. There was great excite 
ment, and immense deprecation of gubernatorial ire. But 
it happened that the governor and my grandfather were old 
friends, and there was no offense. But as they were con 
versing together, one of the distressed managers cast indig 
nant glances at the brilliant costume of my grandfather, who 
summoned him, and asked courteously: 

" 'Did you invite me or my coat?' 

" 'You, in a proper coat,' replied the manager. 

"The governor smiled approvingly, and looked at my 

" 'My friend," said he to the manager, 'I beg your par 
don, I forgot.' 

"The next day my grandfather was seen promenading in 
full ball dress along the streets of the little town. 

" 'They ought to know,' said he, 'that I have a proper 
coat, and that not contempt nor poverty, but forgetfulness, 
sent me to a ball in my dressing-gown.' 

"He did not much frequent social festivals after this 
failure, but he always told the story with satisfaction and a 
quiet smile. 

"To a stranger, life upon those little islands is uniform 
even to weariness. But the old native dons like my grand 
father ripen in the prolonged sunshine, like the turtle upon 
the Bahama banks, nor know of existence more desirable. 
Life in the tropics I take to be a placid torpidity. During 
the long, warm mornings of nearly half a century, my grand- 


father Titbottom had sat in his dressing-gown and gazed 
at the sea. But one calm June day, as he slowly paced 
the piazza, after breakfast, his dreamy glance was arrested 
by a little vessel, evidently nearing the shore. He called for 
his spyglass, and surveying the craft, saw that she came 
from the neighboring island. She glided smoothly, slowly, 
over the summer sea. The warm morning air was sweet 
with perfumes, and silent with heat. The sea sparkled 
languidly, and the brilliant blue hung cloudlessly over. Scores 
of little island vessels had my grandfather seen come 
over the horizon, and cast anchor in the port. Hun 
dreds of summer mornings had the white sails flashed and 
faded, like vague faces through forgotten dreams. But this 
time he laid down the spyglass, and leaned against a column 
of the piazza, and watched the vessel with an intentness that 
he could not explain. She came nearer and nearer, a grace 
ful spectre in the dazzling morning. 

" 'Decidedly I must step down and see about that vessel,' 
said my grandfather Titbottom. 

"He gathered his ample dressing-gown about him, and 
stepped from the piazza with no other protection from the 
sun than the little smoking cap upon his head. His face 
wore a calm, beaming smile, as if he approved of all the 
world. He was not an old man, but there was almost a pa 
triarchal pathos in his expression as he sauntered along in 
the sunshine towards the shore. A group of idle gazers was 
collected to watch the arrival. The little vessel furled her 
sails and drifted slowly landward, and as she was of very 
light draft, she came close to the shelving shore. A long 
plank was put out from her side, and the debarkation com 
menced. My grandfather Titbottom stood looking on to see 
the passengers descend. There were but a few of them, and 
mostly traders from the neighboring island. But suddenly 
the face of a young girl appeared over the side of the vessel, 
and she stepped upon the plank to descend. My grand 
father Titbottom instantly advanced, and moving briskly 
reached the top of the plank at the same moment, and with 
the old tassel of his cap flashing in the sun, and one hand in 
the pocket of his dressing gown, with the other he handed 


the young lady carefully down the plank. That young lady 
was afterwards my grandmother Titbottom. 

"And so, over the gleaming sea which he had watched so 
long, and which seemed thus to reward his patient gaze, came 
his bride that sunny morning. 

" 'Of course we are happy,' he used to say: 'For you are 
the gift of the sun I have loved so long and so well.' And 
my grandfather Titbottom would lay his hand so tenderly 
upon the golden hair of his young bride, that you could 
fancy him a devout Parsee caressing sunbeams. 

"There were endless festivities upon occasion of the mar 
riage; and my grandfather did not go to one of them in his 
dressing-gown. The gentle sweetness of his wife melted 
every heart into love and sympathy. He was much older 
than she, without doubt. But age, as he used to say with a 
smile of immortal youth, is a matter of feeling, not of years. 
And if, sometimes, as she sat by his side upon the piazza, 
her fancy looked through her eyes upon that summer sea 
and saw a younger lover, perhaps some one of those graceful 
and glowing heroes who occupy the foreground of all young 
maidens' visions by the sea, yet she could not find one more 
generous and gracious, nor fancy one more worthy and loving 
than my grandfather Titbottom. And if in the moonlit mid 
night, while he lay calmly sleeping, she leaned out of the 
window and sank into vague reveries of sweet possibility, 
and watched the gleaming path of the moonlight upon the 
water, until the dawn glided over it it was only that mood 
of nameless regret and longing, which underlies all human 
'happiness, or it was the vision of that life of society, which 
she had never seen, but of which she had often read, and 
which looked very fair and alluring across the sea to a girlish 
imagination which knew that it should never know that 

"These West Indian years were the great days of the fam 
ily," said Titbottom, with an air of majestic and regal re 
gret, pausing and musing in our little parlor, like a late 
Stuart in exile, remembering England. Prue raised her eye? 
from her work, and looked at him with a subdued admira^ 
tion; for I have observed that, like the rest of her sex, she 


has a singular sympathy with the representative of a reduced 
family. Perhaps it is their finer perception which leads these 
tender-hearted women to recognize the divine right of social 
superiority so much more readily than we; and yet, much 
as Titbottom was enhanced in my wife's admiration by the 
discovery that his dusky sadness of nature and expression 
was, as it were, the expiring gleam and late twilight of ances 
tral splendors, I doubt if Mr. Bourne would have preferred 
him for bookkeeper a moment sooner upon that account. In 
truth, I have observed, down town, that the fact of your 
ancestors doing nothing is not considered good proof that 
you can do anything. But Prue and her sex regard senti 
ment more than action, and I understand easily enough why 
she is never tired of hearing me read of Prince Charlie. If 
Titbottom had been only a little younger, a little handsomer, 
a little more gallantly dressed in fact, a little more of the 
Prince Charlie, I am sure her eyes would not have fallen 
again upon her work so tranquilly, as he resumed his 

"I can remember my grandfather Titbottom, although I 
was a very young child, and he was a very old man. My 
young mother and my young grandmother are very distinct 
figures in my memory, ministering to the old gentleman, 
wrapped in his dressing-gown, and seated upon the piazza. I 
remember his white hair and his calm smile, and how, not 
long before he died, he called me to him, and laying his 
hand upon my head, said to me: 

" 'My child, the world is not this great sunny piazza, nor 
life the fairy stories which the women tell you here as you 
sit in their laps. I shall soon be gone, but I want to leave 
with you some memento of my love for you, and I know 
nothing more valuable than these spectacles, which your 
grandmother brought from her native island, when she ar 
rived here one fine summer morning, long ago. I cannot 
quite tell whether, when you grow older, you will regard it 
as a gift of the greatest value or as something that you had 
been happier never to have possessed.' 

" 'But grandpapa, I am not short-sighted.' 

" 'My son, are you not human?' said the old gentleman; 


and how shall I ever forget the thoughtful sadness with 
which, at the same time he handed me the spectacles. 

"Instinctively I put them on, and looked at my grand 
father. But I saw no grandfather, no piazza, no flowered 
dressing-gown; I saw only a luxuriant palm-tree, waving 
broadly over a tranquil landscape. Pleasant homes clustered 
around it. Gardens teeming with fruit and flowers; flocks 
quietly feeding; birds wheeling and chirping. I heard chil 
dren's voices, and the low lullaby of happy mothers. The 
sound of cheerful singing came wafted from distant fields 
upon the light breeze. Golden harvests glistened out of sight, 
and I caught their rustling whisper of prosperity. A warm, 
mellow atmosphere bathed the whole. I have seen copies of 
the landscapes of the Italian painter Claude which seemed 
to me faint reminiscences of that calm and happy vision. 
But all this peace and prosperity seemed to flow from the 
spreading palm as from a fountain. 

"I do not know how long I looked, but I had, apparently, 
no power, as I had no will, to remove the spectacles. What 
a wonderful island must Nevis be, thought I, if people carry 
such pictures in their pockets, only by buying a pair of spec 
tacles! What wonder that my dear grandmother Titbottom 
has lived such a placid life, and has blessed us all with her 
sunny temper, when she has lived surrounded by such images 
of peace. 

"My grandfather died. But still, in the warm morning 
sunshine upon the piazza, I felt his placid presence, and as 
I crawled into his great chair, and drifted on in reverie 
through the still, tropical day, it was as if his soft, dreamy 
eye had passed into my soul. My grandmother cherished 
his memory with tender regret. A violent passion of grief 
for his loss was no more possible than for the pensive decay 
of the year. We have no portrait of him, but I see always, 
when I remember him, that peaceful and luxuriant palm. 
And I think that to have known one good old man one man 
who, through the chances and rubs of a long life, has car 
ried his heart in his hand, like a palm branch, waving all 
discords into peace, helps our faith in God, in ourselves, and 
in each other, more than many sermons. I hardly know 


whether to be grateful to my grandfather for the spectacles; 
and yet when I remember that it is to them I owe the pleas 
ant image of him which I cherish, I seem to myself sadly 

"Madam," said Titbottom to Prue, solemnly, "my memory 
is a long and gloomy gallery, and only remotely, at its further 
end, do I see the glimmer of soft sunshine, and only there 
are the pleasant pictures hung. They seem to me very happy 
along whose gallery the sunlight streams to their very feet, 
striking all the pictured walls into unfading splendor." 

Prue had laid her work in her lap, and as Titbottom paused 
a moment, and I turned towards her, I found her mild eyes 
fastened upon my face, and glistening with happy tears. 

"Misfortunes of many kinds came heavily upon the family 
after the head was gone. The great house was relinquished. 
My parents were both dead, and my grandmother had entire 
charge of me. But from the moment that I received the gift 
of the spectacles, I could not resist their fascination, and I 
withdrew into myself, and became a solitary boy. There 
were not many companions for me of my own age, and they 
gradually left me, or, at least, had not a hearty sympathy 
with me; for if they teased me I pulled out my spectacles 
and surveyed them so seriously that they acquired a kind 
of awe of me, and evidently regarded my grandfather's gift 
as a concealed magical weapon which might be dangerously 
drawn upon them at any moment. Whenever, in our games, 
there were quarrels and high words, and I began to feel 
about my dress and to wear a grave look, they all took the 
alarm, and shouted, 'Look out for Titbottom's spectacles,' 
and scattered like a flock of scared sheep. 

"Nor could I wonder at it. For, at first, before they took 
the alarm, I saw strange sights when I looked at them through 
the glasses. If two were quarrelling about a marble or a 
ball, I had only to go behind a tree where I was concealed 
and look at them leisurely. Then the scene changed, and 
no longer a green meadow with boys playing, but a spot 
which I did not recognize, and forms that made me shudder 
or smile. It was not a big boy bullying a little one, but a 
young wolf with glistening teeth and a lamb cowering before 


him; or, it was a dog faithful and famishing or a star 
going slowly into eclipse or a rainbow fading or a flower 
blooming or a sun rising or a waning moon. The revela 
tions of the spectacles determined my feeling for the boys, 
and for all whom I saw through them. No shyness, noi 
awkwardness, nor silence, could separate me from those who 
looked lovely as lilies to my illuminated eyes. If I felt my 
self warmly drawn to any one I struggled with the fierce 
desire of seeing him through the spectacles. I longed to en 
joy the luxury of ignorant feeling, to love without knowing, 
to float like a leaf upon the eddies of life, drifted now to a 
sunny point, now to a solemn shade now over glittering 
ripples, now over gleaming calms, and not to determined 
ports, a trim vessel with an inexorable rudder. 

"But, sometimes, mastered after long struggles, I seized 
my spectacles and sauntered into the little town. Putting 
them to my eyes I peered into the houses and at the people 
who passed me. Here sat a family at breakfast, and I stood 
at the window looking in. O motley meal! fantastic vision! 
The good mother saw her lord sitting opposite, a grave, re 
spectable being, eating muffins. But I saw only a bank- 
bill, more or less crumpled and tattered, marked with a larger 
or lesser figure. If a sharp wind blew suddenly, I saw it 
tremble and flutter; it was thin, flat, impalpable. I removed 
my glasses, and looked with my eyes at the wife. I could 
have smiled to see the humid tenderness with which she re 
garded her strange vis-a-vis. Is life only a game of blind- 
man's-buff? of droll cross-purposes? 

"Or I put them on again, and looked at the wife. How 
many stout trees I saw, how many tender flowers, how 
many placid pools; yes, and how many little streams wind 
ing out of sight, shrinking before the large, hard, round 
eyes opposite, and slipping off into solitude and shade, with 
a low, inner song for their own solace. And in many houses 
I thought to see angels, nymphs, or at least, women, and 
could only find broomsticks, mops, or kettles, hurrying about, 
rattling, tinkling, in a state of shrill activity. I made calls 
upon elegant ladies, and after I had enjoyed the gloss of silk 
and the delicacy of lace, and the flash of jewels, I slipped 


on my spectacles, and saw a peacock's feather, flounced and 
furbelowed and fluttering; or an iron rod, thin, sharp, and 
hard; nor could I possibly mistake the movement of the 
drapery for any flexibility of the thing draped, or, myste 
riously chilled, I saw a statue of perfect form, or flowing 
movement, it might be alabaster, or bronze, or marble, 
but sadly often it was ice; and I knew that after it had 
shone a little, and frozen a few eyes with its despairing per 
fection, it could not be put away in the niches of palaces 
for ornament and proud family tradition, like the alabaster, 
or bronze, or marble statues, but would melt, and shrink, 
and fall coldly away in colorless and useless water, be ab 
sorbed in the earth and utterly forgotten. 

"But the true sadness was rather in seeing those who, not 
having the spectacles, thought that the iron rod was flexible, 
and the ice statue warm. I saw many a gallant heart, 
which seemed to me brave and loyal as the crusaders sent 
by genuine and noble faith to Syria and the sepulchre, pur 
suing, through days and nights, and a long life of devotion, 
the hope of lighting at least a smile in the cold eyes, if not 
a fire in the icy heart. I watched the earnest, enthusiastic 
sacrifice. I saw the pure resolve, the generous faith, the 
fine scorn of doubt, the impatience of suspicion. I watched 
the grace, the ardor, the glory of devotion. Through those 
strange spectacles how often I saw the noblest heart re 
nouncing all other hope, all other ambition, all other life, 
than the possible love of some one of those statues. Ah! 
me, it was terrible, but they had not the love to give. The 
Parian face was so polished and smooth, because there was 
no sorrow upon the heart, and, drearily often, no heart to be 
touched. I could not wonder that the noble heart of devo 
tion was broken, for it had dashed itself against a stone. I 
wept, until my spectacles were dimmed for that hopeless 
sorrow; but there was a pang beyond tears for those icy 

"Still a boy, I was thus too much a man in knowledge, 
I did not comprehend the sights I was compelled to see. I 
used to tear my glasses away from my eyes, and, frightened 
at myself, run to escape my own consciousness. Reaching 


the small house where we then lived, I plunged into my grand 
mother's room and, throwing myself upon the floor, buried 
my face in her lap; and sobbed myself to sleep with pre 
mature grief. But when I awakened, and felt her cool hand 
upon my hot forehead, and heard the low, sweet song, or 
the gentle story, or the tenderly told parable from the Bible, 
with which she tried to soothe me, I could not resist the 
mystic fascination that lured me, as I lay in her lap, to 
steal a glance at her through the spectacles. 

"Pictures of the Madonna have not her rare and pensive 
beauty. Upon the tranquil little islands her life had been 
eventless, and all the fine possibilities of her nature were like 
flowers that never bloomed. Placid were all her years; yet 
I have read of no heroine, of no woman great in sudden 
crises, that it did not seem to me she might have been. The 
wife and widow of a man who loved his own home better 
than the homes of others, I have yet heard of no queen, no 
belle, no imperial beauty, whom in grace, and brilliancy, 
and persuasive courtesy, she might not have surpassed. 

"Madam," said Titbottom to my wife, whose heart hung 
upon his story; "your husband's young friend, Aurelia, 
wears sometimes a camelia in her hair, and no diamond in 
the ball-room seems so costly as that perfect flower, which 
women envy, and for whose least and withered petal men 
sigh; yet, in the tropical solitudes of Brazil, how many a 
camelia bud drops from a bush that no eye has ever seen, 
which, had it flowered and been noticed, would have gilded 
all hearts with its memory. 

"When I stole these furtive glances at my grandmother, 
half fearing that they were wrong, I saw only a calm lake, 
whose shores were low, and over which the sky hung un 
broken, so that the least star was clearly reflected. It had 
an atmosphere of solemn twilight tranquillity, and so com 
pletely did its unruffled surface blend with the cloudless, 
star-studded sky, that, when I looked through my spectacles 
at my grandmother, the vision seemed to me all heaven and 
stars. Yet, as I gazed and gazed, I felt what stately cities 
might well have been built upon those shores, and have 
flashed prosperity over the calm, like coruscations of pearls. 


I dreamed of gorgeous fleets, silken sailed and blown by 
perfumed winds, drifting over those depthless waters and 
through those spacious skies. I gazed upon the twilight, the 
inscrutable silence, like a God-fearing discoverer upon a 
new, and vast, and dim sea, bursting upon him through for 
est glooms, and in the fervor of whose impassioned gaze, a 
millennial and poetic world arises, and man need no longer 
die to be happy. 

"My companions naturally deserted me, for I had grown 
wearily grave and abstracted: and, unable to resist the al 
lurement of my spectacles, I was constantly lost in a world, 
of which those companions were part, yet of which they knew 
nothing. I grew cold and hard, almost morose; people 
seemed to me blind and unreasonable. They did the wrong 
thing. They called green, yellow; and black, white. Young 
men said of a girl, 'What a lovely, simple creature!' I 
looked, and there was only a glistening wisp of straw, dry 
and hollow. Or they said, 'What a cold, proud beauty!' I 
looked, and lo! a Madonna, whose heart held the world. 
Or they said, 'What a wild, giddy girl!' and I saw a glanc 
ing, dancing mountain stream, pure as the virgin snows 
whence it flowed, singing through sun and shade, over pearls 
and gold dust, slipping along unstained by weed, or rain, 
or heavy fpot of cattle, touching the flowers with a dewy 
kiss, a beam of grace, a happy song, a line of light, in the 
dim and troubled landscape. 

"My grandmother sent me to school, but I looked at the 
master, and saw that he was a smooth, round ferule or an 
improper noun or a vulgar fraction, and refused to obey 
him. Or he was a piece of string, a rag, a willow-wand, and 
I had a contemptuous pity. But one was a well of cool, deep 
water, and looking suddenly in, one day, I saw the stars. 
He gave me all my schooling. With him I used to walk 
by the sea, and, as we strolled and the waves plunged in 
long legions before us, I looked at him through the spectacles, 
and as his eye dilated with the boundless view, and his 
chest heaved with an impossible desire, I saw Xerxes and his 
army tossing and glittering, rank upon rank, multitude upon 
multitude, out of sight, but ever regularly advancing and 


with the confused roar of ceaseless music, prostrating them 
selves in abject homage. Or, as with arms outstretched and 
hair streaming on the wind, he chanted full lines of the 
resounding Iliad, I saw Homer pacing the .ffigean sands in 
the Greek sunsets of forgotten times. 

"My grandmother died, and I was thrown into the world 
without resources, and with no capital but my spectacles. 
I tried to find employment, but men were shy of me. There 
was a vague suspicion that I was either a little crazed, or a 
good deal in league with the Prince of Darkness. My com 
panions who would persist in calling a piece of painted mus 
lin a fair and fragrant flower had no difficulty; success 
waited for them around every corner, and arrived in every 
ship. I tried to teach, for I loved children. But if anything 
excited my suspicion, and, putting on my spectacles, I saw 
that I was fondling a snake, or smelling at a bud with a 
worm in it, I sprang up in horror and ran away; or, if it 
seemed to me through the glasses that a cherub smiled upon 
me, or a rose was blooming in my buttonhole, then I felt 
myself imperfect and impure, not fit to be leading and train 
ing what was so essentially superior in quality to myself, 
and I kissed the children and left them weeping and won 

"In despair I went to a great merchant on the island, and 
asked him to employ me. 

" 'My young friend,' said he, 'I understand that you have 
some singular secret, some charm, or spell, or gift, or some- 
tiling, I don't know what, of which people are afraid. Now, 
you know, my dear,' said the merchant, swelling up, and 
apparently prouder of his great stomach than of his large 
fortune, 'I am not of that kind. I am not easily frightened. 
You may spare yourself the pain of trying to impose upon 
me. People who propose to come to time before I arrive, 
are accustomed to arise very early in the morning,' said he, 
thrusting his thumbs hi the armholes of his waistcoat, and 
spreading the fingers, like two fans, upon his bosom. 'I 
(think I have heard something of your secret. You have a 
pair of spectacles, I believe, that you value very much, be 
cause your grandmother brought them as a marriage por- 


tion to your grandfather. Now, if you think fit to sell me 
those spectacles, I will pay you the largest market price for 
glasses. What do you say?' 

"I told him that I had not the slightest idea of selling my 

" 'My young friend means to eat them, I suppose,' said 
he with a contemptuous smile. 

"I made no reply, but was turning to leave the office, when 
the merchant called after me 

" 'My young friend, poor people should never suffer them 
selves to get into pets. Anger is an expensive luxury, in 
which only men of a certain income can indulge. A pair of 
spectacles and a hot temper are not the most promising capi 
tal for success in life, Master Titbottom.' 

"I said nothing, but put my hand upon the door to go 
out, when the merchant said more respectfully, 

" 'Well, you foolish boy, if you will not sell your spec 
tacles, perhaps you will agree to sell the use of them to me. 
That is, you shall only put them on when I direct you, and 
for my purposes. Hallo! you little fool!' cried he impa 
tiently, as he saw that I intended to make no reply. 

"But I had pulled out my spectacles, and put them on for 
my own purpose, and against his direction and desire. I 
looked at him, and saw a huge bald-headed wild boar, with 
gross chops and a leering eye only the more ridiculous for 
the high-arched, gold-bowed spectacles, that straddled his 
nose. One of his fore hoofs was thrust into the safe, where 
his bills payable were hived, and the other into his pocket, 
among the loose change and bills there. His ears were 
pricked forward with a brisk, sensitive smartness. In a 
world where prize pork was the best excellence, he would 
have carried off all 'the premiums. 

"I stepped into the next office in the street, and a mild- 
faced, genial man, also a large and opulent merchant, asked 
me my business in such a tone, that I instantly looked 
through my spectacles, and saw a land flowing with milk 
and honey. There I pitched my tent, and stayed till the 
good man died, and his business was discontinued. 

"But while there," said Titbottom, and his voice trembled 


away into a sigh, "I first saw Pretiosa. Spite of the spec 
tacles, I saw Preciosa. For days, for weeks, for months, 
I did not take my spectacles with me. I ran away from 
them, I threw them up on high shelves, I tried to make up 
my mind to throw them into the sea, or down the well. I 
could not, I would not, I dared not look at Preciosa through 
the spectacles. It was not possible for me deliberately to 
destroy them; but I awoke in the night, and could almost 
have cursed my dear old grandfather for his gift. I escaped 
from the office, and sat for whole days with Preciosa. I 
told her the strange things I had seen with my mystic glasses. 
The hours were not enough for the wild romances which I 
raved in her ear. She listened, astonished and appalled. Her 
blue eyes turned upon me with a sweet deprecation. She 
clung to me, and then withdrew, and fled fearfully from the 
room. But she could not stay away. She could not resist 
my voice, in whose tones burned all the love that filled my 
heart and brain. The very effort to resist the desire of see 
ing her as I saw everybody else, gave a frenzy and an un 
natural tension to my feeling and my manner. I sat by 
'her side, looking into her eyes, smoothing her hair, folding 
her to my heart, which was sunken and deep why not 
forever? in that dream of peace. I ran from her presence, 
and shouted, and leaped with joy, and sat the whole night 
through, thrilled into 'happiness by the thought of her love 
and loveliness, like a wind-harp, tightly strung, and an 
swering the airiest sigh of the breeze with music. Then 
came calmer days the conviction of deep love settled upon 
our lives as after the hurrying, heaving days of spring, 
comes the bland and benignant summer. 

" 'It is no dream, then, after all, and we are happy,' I 
said to her, one day; and there came no answer, for happi 
ness is speechless. 

"We are happy then," I said to myself, "there is no ex 
citement now. How glad I am that I can now look at her 
through my spectacles." 

"I feared lest some instinct should warn me to beware. 
I escaped from her arms, and ran home and seized the 
glasses and bounded back again to Preciosa. As I entered 


the room I was heated, my head was swimming with con 
fused apprehension, my eyes must have glared. Preciosa 
was frightened, and rising from her seat, stood wfth an in 
quiring glance of surprise in her eyes. But I was bent with 
frenzy upon my purpose. I was merely aware that she was 
in the room. I saw nothing else. I heard nothing. I cared 
for nothing, but to see her through that magic glass, and 
feel at once, all the fulness of blissful perfection which that 
would reveal. Preciosa stood before the mirror, but alarmed 
at my wild and eager movements, unable to distinguish 
what I had in my hands, and seeing me raise them suddenly 
to my face, she shrieked with terror, and fell fainting upon 
the floor, at the very moment that I placed the glasses be 
fore my eyes, and beheld myself, reflected in the mirror, 
before which she had been standing. 

"Dear madam," cried Titbottom, to my wife, springing 
up and falling back again in his chair, pale and trembling, 
while Prue ran to him and took his hand, and I poured out 
a glass of water "I saw myself." 

There was silence for many minutes. Prue laid her hand 
gently upon the head of our guest, whose eyes were closed, 
and who breathed softly, like an infant in sleeping. Per 
haps, hi all the long years of anguish since that hour, no 
tender hand had touched his brow, nor wiped away the 
damps of a bitter sorrow. Perhaps the tender, maternal 
fingers of my wife soothed his weary head with the con 
viction that he felt the hand of his mother playing with 
the long hair of her boy in the soft West Indian morning. 
Perhaps it was only the natural relief of expressing a pent- 
up sorrow. When he spoke again, it was with the old, sub 
dued tone, and the air of quaint solemnity. 

"These things were matters of long, long ago, and I came 
to this country soon after. I brought with me, premature 
age, a past of melancholy memories, and the magic spec 
tacles. I had become their slave. I had nothing more to 
fear. Having seen myself, I was compelled to see others, 
properly to understand my relations to them. The lights 
that chee"' the future of other men had gone out for me. 
My *YP irere those of an exile turned backwards upon the 


receding shore, and not forwards with hope upon the ocean. 
I mingled with men, but with little pleasure. There are 
but many varieties of a few types. I did not find those I 
came to clearer sighted than those I had left behind. I 
heard men called shrewd and wise, and report said they 
were highly intelligent and successful. But when I looked 
at them through my glasses, I found no halo of real man 
liness. My finest sense detected no aroma of purity and 
principle; but I saw only a fungus that had fattened and 
spread in a night. They all went to the theater to see actors 
upon the stage. I went to see actors in the boxes, so con 
summately cunning, that the others did not know they were 
acting, and they did not suspect it themselves. 

"Perhaps you wonder it did not make me misanthropical. 
My dear friends, do not forget that I had seen myself. It 
made me compassionate, not cynical. Of course I could 
not value highly the ordinary standards of success and ex 
cellence. When I went to church and saw a thin, blue, 
artificial flower, or a great sleepy cushion expounding the. 
beauty of holiness to pews full of eagles, half-eagles, and 
threepences, however adroitly concealed in broadcloth and 
boots: or saw an onion in an Easter bonnet weeping over 
the sins of Magdalen, I did not feel as they felt who saw in 
all this, not only propriety, but piety. Or when at public 
meetings an eel stood up on end, and wriggled and squirmed 
lithely in every direction, and declared that, for his part, 
he went in for rainbows and hot water how could 
I help seeing that he was still black and loved a slimy 

"I could not grow misanthropical when I saw in the eyes 
of so many who were called old, the gushing fountains of 
eternal youth, and 'the light of an immortal dawn, or when 
I saw those who were esteemed unsuccessful and aimless, 
ruling a fair realm of peace and plenty, either in themselves, 
or more perfectly in another a realm and princely pos 
session for which they had well renounced a hopeless search 
and a belated triumph. I knew one man who had been for 
years a by-word for having sought the philosopher's stone. 
But I looked at him through the spectacles and saw a satis- 


faction in concentrated energies, and a tenacity arising front 
devotion to a noble dream, which was not apparent in the 
youths who pitied him in the aimless effeminacy of clubs, 
nor in the clever gentlemen who cracked their thin jokes 
upon him over a gossiping dinner. 

"And there was your neighbor over the way, who passes 
for a woman Who has failed in her career, because she is an 
old maid. People wag solemn heads of pity, and say that 
she made so great a mistake in not marrying the brilliant 
and famous man who was for long years her suitor. It is 
clear that no orange flower will ever bloom for her. The 
young people make tender romances about her as they watch 
her, and think of her solitary hours of bitter regret, and 
wasting longing, never to be satisfied. When I first came 
to town I shared this sympathy, and pleased my imagina 
tion with fancying her hard struggle with the conviction 
that she had lost all that made life beautiful. I supposed 
that if I looked at her through my spectacles, I should see 
that it was only her radiant temper which so illuminated 
her dress, that we did not see it to be heavy sables. But 
when, one day, I did raise my glasses and glanced at her, 
I did not see the old maid whom we all pitied for a secret 
sorrow, but a woman whose nature was a tropic, in which 
the sun shone, and birds sang, and flowers bloomed forever. 
There were no regrets, no doubts and half wishes, but a 
calm sweetness, a transparent peace. I saw her blush when 
that old lover passed by, or paused to speak to her, but it 
was only the sign of delicate feminine consciousness. She 
knew his love, and honored it, although she could not under 
stand it nor return it. I looked closely at her, and I saw 
that although all .the world had exclaimed at her indiffer 
ence to such homage, and had declared it was astonishing 
she should lose so fine a match, she would only say simply 
and quietly 

" 'If Shakespeare loved me and I did not love him, how 
could I marry him?' 

"Could I be misanthropical when I saw such fidelity, and 
dignity, and simplicity? 

"You may believe that I was especially curious to look at 

that old lover of hers, through my glasses. He was no 
longer young, you know, when I came, and his fame and 
fortune were secure. Certainly I have heard of few men 
more beloved, and of none more worthy to be loved. He 
had the easy manner of a man of the world, the sensitive 
grace of a poet, and the charitable judgment of a wide 
traveller. He was accounted the most successful and most 
unspoiled of men. Handsome, brilliant, wise, tender, grace 
ful, accomplished, rich, and famous, I looked at him, with 
out the spectacles, in surprise, and admiration, and won 
dered how your neighbor over the way had been so entirely 
untouched by his homage. I watched 'their intercourse in 
society, I saw her gay smile, her cordial greeting; I marked 
his frank address, his lofty courtesy. Their manner told no 
tales. The eager world was balked, and I pulled out my 

"I had seen her, already, and now I saw him. He lived 
only in memory, and his memory was a spacious and stately 
palace. But he did not oftenest frequent the banqueting 
hall, where were endless hospitality and feasting nor did 
he loiter much in reception rooms, where a throng of new 
visitors was forever swarming nor did he feed his vanity 
by haunting the apartment in which were stored the trophies 
of his varied triumphs nor dream much in the great gal 
lery hung with pictures of his travels. But from all these 
lofty halls of memory he constantly escaped to a remote and 
solitary chamber, into which no one had ever penetrated. 
But my fata) eyes, behind the glasses, followed and entered 
with him, and saw that the chamber was a chapel. It was 
idim, and silent, and sweet with perpetual incense that burned 
upon an altar before a picture forever veiled. There, when 
ever I chanced to look, I saw him kneel and pray; and there, 
by day and by night, a funeral hymn was chanted. 

"I do not believe you will be surprised that I have been 
content to remain deputy bookkeeper. My spectacles regu 
lated my ambition, and I early learned that there were bet 
ter gods than Plutus. The glasses have lost much of their 
fascination now, and I do not often use them. Sometimes 
the desire is irresistible. Whenever I am greatly interested, 


I am compelled to take them out and see what it is that I 

"And yet and yet," said Titbottom, after a pause, "I am 
not sure that I thank my grandfather." 

Prue had long since laid away her work, and had heard 
every word of the story. I saw that the dear woman had 
yet one question to ask, and had been earnestly hoping to 
hear something that would spare her the necessity of ask 
ing. But Titbottom had resumed his usual tone, after the 
momentary excitement, and made no further allusion to him 
self. We all sat silently; Titbottom's eyes fastened mus 
ingly upon the carpet: Prue looking wistfully at him, and I 
regarding both. 

It was past midnight, and our guest arose to go. He 
shook hands quietly, made his grave Spanish bow to Prue, 
and taking his hat, went towards the front door. Prue and 
I accompanied him. I saw in her eyes that she would ask 
her question. And as Titbottom opened the door, I heard 
the low words: 

"And Preciosa?" 

Titbottom paused. He had just opened the door and the 
moonlight streamed over him as he stood, turning back to us. 

"I have seen her but once since. It was in church, and 
she was kneeling with her eyes closed, so that she did not 
see me. But I rubbed the glasses well, and looked at her, 
and saw a white lily, whose stem was broken, but which was 
fresh; and luminous, and fragrant, still." 

"That was a miracle," interrupted Prue. 

"Madam, it was a miracle," replied Titbottom, "and for 
that one sight I am devoutly grateful for my grandfather's 
gift. I saw, that although a flower may have lost its hold 
upon earthly moisture, it may still bloom as sweetly, fed 
by the dews of heaven." 

The door closed, and he was gone. But as Prue put her 
arm in mine and we went upstairs together, she whispered 
in my ear: 

"How glad I am that you don't wear spectacles." 


IT IS not often that I trouble the readers of The Atlantic 
Monthly. I should not trouble them now, but for the im 
portunities of my wife, who "feels to insist" that a duty 
to society is unfulfilled, till I have told why I had to have a 
double, and how he undid me. She is sure, she says, that 
intelligent persons cannot understand that pressure upon 
public servants which alone drives any man into the em 
ployment of a double. And while I fear she thinks, at the 
bottom of her heart, that my fortunes will never be re-made, 
she has a faint hope, that, as another Rasseias, I may teach 
a lesson to future publics, from which they may profit, 
though we die. Owing to the behavior of my double, or, if 
you please, to that public pressure which compelled me to 
employ him, I have plenty of leisure to write this communi 

I am, or rather was, a minister, of the Sandemanian con 
nection. I was settled in the active, wide-awake town of 
Naguadavick, on one of the finest water-powers in Maine. 
We used to call it a Western town in the heart of the civili 
zation of New England. A charming place it was and is. 
A spirited, brave young parish had I; and it seemed as if 
we might have all "the joy of eventful living" to our hearts' 

From The Atlantic Monthly, September, 1859. Republished in 
the volume, The Man Without a Country, and Other Tales 
(1868), by Edward Everett Hale (Little, Brown & Co.). 



Alas! how little we knew on the day of my ordination, 
and in those halcyon moments of our first housekeeping! To 
be the confidential friend in a hundred families in the town 
cutting the social trifle, as my friend Haliburton says, 
J 'from the top of the whipped-syllabub to the bottom of the 
sponge-cake, which is the foundation" to keep abreast of 
the thought of the age in one's study, and to do one's best 
on Sunday to interweave that thought with the active life 
of an active town, and to inspirit both and make both in 
finite by glimpses of the Eternal Glory, seemed such an ex 
quisite forelook into one's life! Enough to do, and all so 
real and so grand! If this vision could only have lasted! 

The truth is, that this vision was not in itself a delusion, 
nor, indeed, half bright enough. If one could only have 
been left to do his own business, the vision would have 
accomplished itself and brought out new paraheliacal visions, 
each as bright as the original. The misery was and is, as we 
found out, I and Polly, before long, that, besides the vision, 
and besides the usual human and finite failures in life (such 
as breaking the old pitcher that came over in the Mayflower, 
and putting into the fire the alpenstock with which her 
father climbed Mont Blanc) besides, these, I say (imi 
tating the style of Robinson Crusoe), there were pitch 
forked in on us a great rowen-heap of humbugs, handed down 
from some unknown seed-time, in which we were expected, 
and I chiefly, to fulfil certain public functions before the 
community, of the character of those fulfilled by the third 
row of supernumeraries who stand behind the Sepoys in the 
spectacle of the Cataract of the Ganges. They were the 
duties, in a word, which one performs as member of one or 
another social class or subdivision, wholly distinct from what 
one does as A. by himself A. What invisible power put these 
functions on me, it would be very hard to tell. But such 
power there was and is. And I had not been at work a 
year before I found I was living two lives, one real and one 
merely functional for two sets of people, one my parish, 
whom I loved, and the other a vague public, for whom I 
did not care two straws. All this was in a vague notion, 
which everybody had and has, that this second life would 


eventually bring out some great results, unknown at present, 
to somebody somewhere. 

Crazed by this duality of life, I first read Dr. Wigan on 
the Duality of the Brain, hoping that I could train one side 
of my head to do these outside jobs, and the other to do 
my intimate and real duties. For Richard Greenough once 
told me that, in studying for the statue of Franklin, he 
found that the left side of the great man's face was philo 
sophic and reflective, and the right side funny and smiling. 
If you will go and look at the bronze statue, you will find 
he has repeated this observation there for posterity. The 
eastern profile is the portrait of the statesman Franklin, the 
western of Poor Richard. But Dr. Wigan does not go into 
these niceties of this subject, and I failed. It was then that, 
on my wife's suggestion, I resolved to look out for a Double. 

I was, at first, singularly successful. We happened to be 
recreating at Stafford Springs that summer. We rode out 
one day, for one of the relaxations of that watering-place, 
to the great Monsonpon House. We were passing through 
one of the large halls, when my destiny was fulfilled! I 
saw my man! 

He was not shaven. He had on no spectacles. He was 
dressed in a green baize roundabout and faded blue over 
alls, worn sadly at the knee. But I saw at once that he was 
of my height, five feet four and a half. He had black hair, 
worn off by his hat. So have and 'have not I. He stooped 
in walking. So do I. His hands were large, and mine. 
And choicest gift of Fate in all he had, not "a straw 
berry-mark on his left arm," but a cut from a juvenile' 
brickbat over his right eye, slightly affecting the play of 
that eyebrow. Reader, so have I! My fate was sealed! 

A word with Mr. Holley, one of the inspectors, settled 
the Whole thing. It proved that this Dennis Shea was a 
harmless, amiable fellow, of the class known as shiftless, 
who had sealed his fate by marrying a dumb wife, who was 
at that moment ironing in the laundry. Before I left Staf 
ford, I had hired both for five years. We had applied to 
Judge Pynchon, then the probate judge at Springfield, to 
change 'the name of Dennis Shea to Frederic Ingham. We 


had explained to the Judge, what was the precise truth, that 
an eccentric gentleman wished to adopt Dennis under this 
new name into his family. It never occurred to him that 
Dennis might be more than fourteen years old. And 'thus, 
to shorten this preface, when we returned at night to my 
parsonage at Naguadavick, there entered Mrs. Ingham, her 
new dumb laundress, myself, who am Mr. Frederic Ingham, 
and my double, who was Mr. Frederic Ingham by as good 
right as I. 

Oh, the fun we had the next morning in shaving his beard 
to my pattern, cutting his hair to match mine, and teaching 
him how to wear and how to take off gold-bowed spectacles! 
Really, they were electroplate, and the glass was plain (for 
the poor fellow's eyes were excellent). Then in four suc 
cessive afternoons I taught him four speeches. I had found 
these would be quite enough for the supernumerary-Sepoy 
line of life, and it was well for me they were. For though 
he was good-natured, he was very shiftless, and it was, as 
our national proverb says, "like pulling teeth" to teach him. 
But at the end of the next week he could say, with quite 
my easy and frisky air: 

1. "Very well, thank you. And you?" This for an an 
swer to casual salutations. 

2. "I am very glad you liked it." 

3. "There has been so much said, and, on the whole, so 
well said, that I will not occupy the time." 

4. "I agree, in general, with my friend on the other side 
of the room." 

At first I had a feeling that I was going to be at great 
cost for clothing him. But it proved, of course, at once, 
that, whenever he was out, I should be at home. And I 
went, during the bright period of his success, to so few of 
those awful pageants which require a black dress-coat and 
what the ungodly call, after Mr. Dickens, a white choker, 
that in the happy retreat of my own dressing-gowns and 
jackets my days went by as happily and cheaply as those 
of another Thalaba. And Polly declares there was never a 
year when the tailoring cost so little. He lived (Dennis, not 
Thalaba) in his wife's room over the kitchen. He had orders 


never to show himself at that window. When he ap 
peared in the front of the house, I retired to my sanctissi- 
mum and my dressing-gown. In short, the Dutchman and 
!his wife, in the old weather-box, had not less to do with 
each other than he and I. He made the furnace-fire and 
split the wood before daylight; then he went to sleep again, 
and slept late; then came for orders, with a red silk ban 
danna tied round his head, with his overalls on, and his 
dress-coat and spectacles off. If we happened to be inter- 
j rupted, no one guessed that he was Frederic Ingham as well 
I as I; and, in the neighborhood, there grew up an impression 
that the minister's Irishman worked day-times in the factory- 
village at New Coventry. After I had given him his or 
ders, I never saw him till the next day. 

I launched him by sending him to a meeting of the En 
lightenment Board. The Enlightenment Board consists of 
seventy-four members, of whom sixty-seven are necessary to 
form a quorum. One becomes a member under the regu 
lations laid down in old Judge Dudley's will. I became 
one by being ordained pastor of a church in Naguadavick. 
You see you cannot help yourself, if you would. At this 
particular time we had had four successive meetings, aver 
aging four hours each wholly occupied in whipping in a 
quorum. At the first only eleven men were present; at the 
next, by force of three circulars, twenty-seven; at the third, 
thanks to two days' canvassing by Auchmuty and myself, 
begging men to come, we had sixty. Half the others were 
in Europe. But without a quorum we could do nothing. 
All the rest of us waited grimly for our four hours, and ad 
journed without any action. At the fourth meeting we had 
flagged, and only got fifty-nine together. But on the first 
appearance of my double whom I sent on this fatal Mon 
day to the fifth meeting he was the sixty-seventh man who 
entered the room. He was greeted with a storm of ap 
plause! The poor fellow had missed his way read the 
street signs ill through his spectacles (very ill, in fact, 
without them) and had not dared to inquire. He en 
tered the room finding the president and secretary holding 
"to their chairs two judges of the Supreme Court, who were 


also members ex officio, and were begging leave to go away. 
On his entrance all was changed. Presto, the by-laws 
were amended, and the Western property was given 
away. Nobody stopped to converse with him. He voted, as 
I had charged him to do, in every instance, with the minor 
ity. I won new laurels as a man of sense, though a little 
unpunctual and Dennis, alias Ingham, returned to the par 
sonage, astonished to see with how little wisdom the world is 
governed. He cut a few of my parishioners in the street; 
but he had his glasses off, and I am known to be near 
sighted. Eventually he recognized them more readily than I. 

I "set him again" at the exhibition of the New Coventry 
Academy; and here he undertook a "speaking part" as, 
in my boyish, worldly days, I remember the bills used to say 
of Mile. Celeste. We are all trustees of the New Coventry 
Academy; and there has lately been "a good deal of feel 
ing" because the Sandemanian trustees did not regularly at 
tend the exhibitions. It has been intimated, indeed, that 
the Sandemanians are leaning towards Free- Will, and that 
we have, therefore, neglected these semi-annual exhibitions, 
while there is no doubt that Auchmuty last year went to 
Commencement at Waterville. Now the head master at New 
Coventry is a real good fellow, who knows a Sanskrit root 
when he sees it, and often cracks etymologies with me so 
that, in strictness, I ought to go to their exhibitions. But 
think, reader, of sitting through three long July days in 
that Academy chapel, following the program from 

Miss Jones. 
round to 

Trio on Three Pianos. Duel from opera of Midship 
man Easy. MARRYATT. 

coming in at nine, Thursday evening! Think of this, reader, 
for men who know the world is trying to go backward, and 
who would give their lives if they could help it on! Well! 
The double had succeeded so well at the Board, that I sent 
him to the Academy. (Shade of Plato, pardon!) He ar 
rived early on Tuesday, when, indeed, few but mothers and 
clergymen are generally expected, and returned in the evening 


to us, covered with honors. He had dined at the right 
hand of the chairman, and he spoke in high terms of the 
repast. The chairman had expressed his interest in the 
French conversation. "I am very glad you liked it," said 
Dennis; and the poor chairman, abashed, supposed the ac 
cent had been wrong. At the end of the day, the gentle 
men present had been called upon for speeches the Rev. 
Frederic Ingham first, as it happened; upon which Dennis 
had risen, and had said, "There has been so much said, and, 
on the whole, so well said, that I will not occupy the time." 
The girls were delighted, because Dr. Dabney, the year be 
fore, had given them at this occasion a scolding on impro 
priety of behavior at lyceum lectures. They all declared 
Mr. Ingham was a love and so handsome! (Dennis is 
good-looking.) Three of them, with arms behind the oth 
ers' waists, followed him up to the wagon he rode home in; 
and a little girl with a blue sash had been sent to give him 
a rosebud. After this debut in speaking, he went to the ex 
hibition for two days more, to the mutual satisfaction of 
all concerned. Indeed, Polly reported that he had pro 
nounced the trustees' dinners of a higher grade than those of 
the parsonage. When the next term began, I found six of 
the Academy girls had obtained permission to come across 
the river and attend our church. But this arrangement did 
not long continue. 

After this he went to several Commencements for me, 
and ate the dinners provided; he sat through three of our 
Quarterly Conventions for me always voting judiciously, 
by the simple rule mentioned above, of siding with the mi 
nority. And I, meanwhile, who had before been losing caste 
among my friends, as holding myself aloof from the asso 
ciations of the body, began to rise in everybody's favor. 
"Ingham's a good fellow always on hand"; "never talks 
much but does the right thing at the right time"; "is not 
as unpunctual as he used to be he comes early, and sits 
through to the end." "He has got over his old talkative 
habit, too. I spoke to a friend of his about it once; and I 
think Ingham took it kindly," etc., etc. 

This voting power of Dennis was particularly valuable at 


the quarterly meetings of the Proprietors of the Naguadavick 
Ferry. My wife inherited from her father some shares in 
that enterprise, which is not yet fully developed, though it 
doubtless will become a very valuable property. The law 
of Maine then forbade stockholders to appear by proxy at 
such meetings. Polly disliked to go, not being, in fact, a 
"hens'-rights hen," and transferred her stock to me. I, 
after going once, disliked it more than she. But Dennis 
went to the next meeting, and liked it very much. He said 
the armchairs were good, the collation good, and the free 
rides to stockholders pleasant. He was a little frightened 
when they first took him upon one of the ferry-boats, but 
after two or three quarterly meetings he became quite brave. 
Thus far I never had any difficulty with him. Indeed, 
being of that type which is called shiftless, he was only too 
happy to be told daily what to do, and to be charged not 
to be forthputting or in any way original in his discharge 
of that duty. He learned, however, to discriminate be 
tween the lines of his life, and very much preferred these 
stockholders' meetings and trustees' dinners and com 
mencement collations to another set of occasions, from which 
he used to beg off most piteously. Our excellent brother, 
Dr. Fillmore, had taken a notion at this time that our Sand- 
emanian churches needed more expression of mutual sym 
pathy. He insisted upon it that we were remiss. He said, 
that, if the Bishop came to preach at Naguadavick, all the 
Episcopal clergy of the neighborhood were present; if Dr. 
Pond came, all the Congregational clergymen turned out to 
hear him; if Dr. Nichols, all the Unitarians; and he thought 
we owed it to each other that, whenever there was an oc 
casional service at a Sandemanian church, the other brethren: 
should all, if possible, attend. "It looked well," if nothing 
more. Now this really meant that I had not been to hear 
one of Dr. Fillmore's lectures on the Ethnology of Re 
ligion. He forgot that he did not hear one of my course on 
the Sandemanianism of Anselm. But I felt badly when he 
said it; and afterwards I always made Dennis go to hear 
all the brethren preach, when I was not preaching myself. 
This was what he took exceptions to the only thing, as I 


said, which he ever did except to. Now came the advan 
tage of his long morning-nap, and of the green tea with 
which Polly supplied the kitchen. But he would plead, so 
humbly, to be let off, only from one or two! I never ex- 
cepted him, however. I knew the lectures were of value, and 
I thought it best he should be able to keep the connection. 

Polly is more rash than I am, as the reader has observed 
in the outset of this memoir. She risked Dennis one night 
under the eyes of her own sex. Governor Gorges had al 
ways been very kind to us; and when he gave his great 
annual party to the town, asked us. I confess I hated to 
go. I was deep in the new volume of Pfeiffer's Mystics, 
which Haliburton had just sent me from Boston. "But how 
rude," said Polly, "not to return the Governor's civility and 
Mrs. Gorges's, when they will be sure to ask why you are 
away!" Still I demurred, and at last she, with the wit of 
Eve and of Serm'ramis conjoined, let me off by saying that, 
if I would go in with her, and sustain the initial conversa 
tions with the Governor and the ladies staying there, she 
would risk Dennis for the rest of the evening. And that 
was just what we did. She took Dennis in training all that 
afternoon, instructed him in fashionable conversation, cau 
tioned him against the temptations of the supper-table 
and at nine in the evening he drove us all down in the carry' 
all. I made the grand star-entree with Polly and the pretty 
Walton girls, who were staying with us. We had put Den 
nis into a great rough top-coat, without his glasses and 
the girls never dreamed, in the darkness, of looking at him, 
He sat in the carriage, at the door, while we entered. I did 
the agreeable to Mrs. Gorges, was introduced to her niece, 
Miss Fernanda I complimented Judge Jeffries on his deci 
sion in the great case of D'Aulnay vs. Laconia Mining Co. 
I stepped into the dressing-room for a moment stepped out 
for another walked home, after a nod with Dennis, and 
tying the horse to a pump and while I walked home, Mr. 
Frederic Ingham, my double, stepped in through the library 
into the Gorges's grand saloon. 

Oh! Polly died of laughing as she told me of it at mid 
night! And even here, where I have to teach my hands to 


hew the beech for stakes to fence our cave, she dies of laugh 
ing as she recalls it and says that single occasion was worth 
all we have paid for it. Gallant Eve that she is! She 
joined Dennis at the library door, and in an instant pre 
sented him to Dr. Ochterlong, from Baltimore, who was on 
a visit in town, and was talking with her, as Dennis came in. 
"Mr. Ingham would like to hear what you were telling us 
about your success among the German population." And 
Dennis bowed and said, in spite of a scowl from Polly, "I'm 
very glad you liked it." But Dr. Ochterlong did not observe, 
and plunged into the tide of explanation, Dennis listening 
like a prime-minister, and bowing like a mandarin which 
is, I suppose, the same thing. Polly declared it was just 
like Haliburton's Latin conversation with the Hungarian 
minister, of which he is very fond of telling. "Qucene sit his- 
toria Reformationis in Ungarid?" quoth Haliburton, after 
some thought. And his confrere replied gallantly, "In seculo 
decimo tertio," etc., etc., etc.; and from decimo tertio* to 
the nineteenth century and a half lasted till the oysters 
came. So was it that before Dr. Ochterlong came to the 
"success," or near it, Governor Gorges came to Dennis and 
asked him to hand Mrs. Jeffries down to supper, a request 
which he heard with great joy. 

Polly was skipping round the room, I guess, gay as a lark. 
Auchmuty came to her "in pity for poor Ingham," who 
was so bored by the stupid pundit and Auchmuty could 
not understand why I stood it so long. But when Dennis 
took Mrs. Jeffries down, Polly could not resist standing near 
them. He was a little flustered, till the sight of the eatables 
and drinkables gave him the same Mercian courage which it 
gave Diggory. A little excited then, he attempted one or 
two of his speeches to the Judge's lady. But little he knew 
how hard it was to get in even a promptu there edgewise. 
"Very well, I thank you," said he, after the eating elements 

*Which means, "In the thirteenth century," my dear little 
bell-and-coral reader. You have rightly guessed that the ques 
tion means, ''"What 5s the history of the Reformation in Hun 
gary ?" 


were adjusted; "and you?" And then did not he have to 
hear about the mumps, and the measles, and arnica, and 
belladonna, and chamomile-flower, and dodecathem, till she 
changed oysters for salad and then about the old practice 
and the new, and what her sister said, and what her sister's 
friend said, and what the physician to her sister's friend said, 
and then what was said by the brother of the sister of the 
physician of the friend of her sister, exactly as if it had been 
in Ollendorff? There was a moment's pause, as she declined 
champagne. "I am very glad you liked it," said Dennis 
again, which he never should have said, but to one who com 
plimented a sermon. "Oh! you are so sharp, Mr. Ingham! 
No! I never drink any wine at all except sometimes in 
summer a little currant spirits from our own currants, you 
know. My own mother that is, I call her my own mother, 
because, you know, I do not remember," etc., etc., etc.; till 
they came to the candied orange at the end of the feast 
when Dennis, rather confused, thought he must say some 
thing, and tried No. 4 "I agree, in general, with my friend 
the other side of the room" which he never should have 
said but at a public meeting. But Mrs. Jeffries, who never 
listens expecting to understand, caught him up instantly 
with, "Well, I'm sure my husband returns the compliment; 
he always agrees with you though we do worship with the 
Methodists but you know, Mr. Ingham," etc., etc., etc., 
till the move was made upstairs; and as Dennis led her 
through the hall, he was scarcely understood by any but 
Polly, as he said, "There has been so much said, and, on the 
whole, so well said, that I will not occupy the time." 

His great resource the rest of the evening was standing 
in the library, carrying on animated conversations with one 
and another in much the same way. Polly had Initiated him 
in the mysteries of a discovery of mine, that it is not neces 
sary to finish your sentence in a crowd, but by a sort of 
mumble, omitting sibilants and dentals. This, indeed, if 
your words fail you, answers even in public extempore speech 
but better where other talking is going on. Thus: "We 
missed you at the Natural History Society, Ingham." Ing 
ham replies: "I am very gligloglum, that is, that you were 


m-m-m-m-m." By gradually dropping the voice, the interloc 
utor is compelled to supply the answer. "Mrs. Ingham, I 
hope your friend Augusta is better." Augusta has not been 
ill. Polly cannot think of explaining, however, and answers: 
"Thank you, ma'am; she is very rearason wewahwewob," 
in lower and lower tones. And Mrs. Throckmorton, who for 
got the subject of which she spoke, as soon as she asked the 
question, is quite satisfied. Dennis could see into the card- 
room, and came to Polly to ask if he might not go and play 
all-fours. But, of course, she sternly refused. At midnight 
they came home delightedly: Polly, as I said, wild to tell 
me the story of victory; only both the pretty Walton girls 
said: "Cousin Frederic, you did not come near me all the 

We always called him Dennis at home, for convenience, 
though his real name was Frederic Ingham, as I have ex 
plained. When the election day came round, however, I 
found that by some accident there was only one Frederic 
Ingham's name on the voting-list; and, as I was quite busy 
that day in writing some foreign letters to Halle, I thought 
I would forego my privilege of suffrage, and stay quietly at 
home, telling Dennis that he might use the record on the vot 
ing-list and vote. I gave him a ticket, which I told him he 
might use, if he liked to. That was that very sharp election 
in Maine which the readers of The Atlantic so well remem 
ber, and it had been intimated in public that the ministers 
would do well not to appear at the polls. Of course, after 
that, we had to appear by self or proxy. Still, Naguadavick 
was not then a city, and this standing in a double queue at 
townmeeting several hours to vote was a bore of the first 
water; and so, when I found that there was but one Frederic 
Ingham on the list, and that one of us must give up, I stayed 
at home and finished the letters (which, indeed, procured 
for Fothergill his coveted appointment of Professor of As 
tronomy at Leavenworth), and I gave Dennis, as we called 
him, the chance. Something in the matter gave a good deal 
of popularity to the Frederic Ingham name; and at the ad 
journed election, next week, Frederic Ingham was chosen 
to the legislature. Whether this was I or Dennis, I never 


really knew. My friends seemed to think it was I; but I 
felt, that, as Dennis -had done the popular thing, he was 
entitled to the honor; so I sent him to Augusta when the 
time came, and he took the oaths. And a very valuable 
member he made. They appointed him on the Committee 
on Parishes; but I wrote a letter for him, resigning, on the 
ground that he took an interest in our claim to the stumpage 
in the minister's sixteenths of Gore A, next No. 7, in the 
loth Range. He never made any speeches, and always voted 
with the minority, which was what he was sent to do. He 
made me and himself a great many good friends, some of 
whom I did not afterwards recognize as quickly as Dennis 
did my parishioners. On one or two occasions, when there 
was wood to saw at home, I kept him at home; but I took 
those occasions to go to Augusta myself. Finding myself 
often in his vacant seat at these times, I watched the pro 
ceedings with a good deal of care; and once was so much 
excited that I delivered my somewhat celebrated speech on 
the Central School District question, a speech of which the 
State of Maine printed some extra copies. I believe there is 
no formal rule permitting strangers to speak; but no one 

Dennis himself, as I said, never spoke at all. But our 
experience this session led me to think, that if, by some 
such "general understanding" as the reports speak of in legis 
lation daily, every member of Congress might leave a double 
to sit through those deadly sessions and answer to roll-calls 
and do the legitimate party-voting, which appears stereotyped 
in the regular list of Ashe, Bocock, Black, etc., we should 
gain decidedly in working power. As things stand, the sad 
dest state prison I ever visit is that Representatives' Cham 
ber in Washington. If a man leaves for an hour, twenty 
"correspondents" may be howling, "Where was Mr. Prender- 
gast when the Oregon bill passed?" And if poor Prender- 
gast stays there! Certainly, the worst use you can mak< 
of a man is to put him in prison ! 

I know, indeed, that public men of the highest rank have 
resorted to this expedient long ago. Dumas's novel of The 
Iron Mask turns on the brutal imprisonment of Louis the 


Fourteenth's double. There seems little doubt, in cur own 
history, that it was the real General Pierce who shed tears 
when the delegate from Lawrence explained to him the suf 
ferings of the people there and only General Pierce's double 
who had given the orders for the assault on that town, which 
was invaded the next day. My charming friend, George 
Withers, has, I am almost sure, a double, who preaches his 
afternoon sermons for him. This is the reason that the 
theology often varies so from that of the forenoon. But that 
double is almost as charming as the original. Some of the 
most well-defined men, who stand out most prominently on 
the background of history, are in this way stereoscopic men ; 
who owe their distinct relief to the slight differences between 
the doubles. All this I know. My present suggestion is sim 
ply the great extension of the system, so that all public 
machine-work may be done by it. 

But I see I loiter on my story, which is rushing to the 
plunge. Let me stop an instant more, however, to recall, 
were it only to myself, that charming year while all was yet 
well. After the double had become a matter of course, for 
nearly twelve months before he undid me, what a year it 
was! Full of active life, full of happy love, of the hardest 
work, of the sweetest sleep, and the fulfilment of so many 
of the fresh aspirations and dreams of boyhood! Dennis 
went to every school-committee meeting, and sat through all 
those late wranglings which used to keep me up till midnight 
and awake till morning. He attended all the lectures to 
which foreign exiles sent me tickets begging me to come for 
the love of Heaven and of Bohemia. He accepted and used 
all the tickets for charity concerts which were sent to me. 
He appeared everywhere where it was specially desirable 
that "our denomination," or "our party," or "our class," 
or "our family," or "our street," or "our town," or "our 
country," or "our state," should be fully represented. And 
I fell back to that charming life which in boyhood one dreams 
of, when he supposes he shall do his own duty and make his 
own sacrifices, without being tied up with those of other 
people. My rusty Sanskrit, Arabic, Hebrew, Greek, Latin, 
French, Italian, Spanish, German and English began to take 


polish. Heavens! how little I had done with them while I 
attended to my public duties! My calls on my parishioners 
became the friendly, frequent, homelike sociabilities they 
were meant to be, instead of the hard work of a man goaded 
to desperation by the sight of his lists of arrears. And 
preaching! what a luxury preaching was when I had on 
Sunday the whole result of an individual, personal week, 
from which to speak to a people whom all that week I had 
been meeting as hand-to-hand friend ! I never tired on Sun 
day, and was in condition to leave the sermon at home, if I 
chose, and preach it extempore, as all men should do al 
ways. Indeed, I wonder, when I think that a sensible peo 
ple like ours really more attached to their clergy than they 
were in the lost days, when the Mathers and Nortons were 
noblemen should choose to neutralize so much of their 
ministers' lives, and destroy so much of their early training, 
by this undefined passion for seeing them in public. It 
springs from our balancing of sects. If a spirited Episco 
palian takes an interest in the almshouse, and is put on the 
Poor Board, every other denomination must have a minis 
ter there, lest the poorhouse be changed into St. Paul's 
Cathedral. If a Sandemanian is chosen president of the 
Young Men's Library, there must be a Methodist vice-presi 
dent and a Baptist secretary. And if a Universalist Sunday- 
School Convention collects five hundred delegates, the next 
Congregationalist Sabbath-School Conference must be as 
large, "lest 'they' whoever they may be should think 'we' 
whoever we may be are going down." 

Freed from these necessities, that happy year, I began to 
know my wife by sight. We saw each other sometimes. In 
those long mornings, when Dennis was in the study explain 
ing to map-peddlers that I had eleven maps of Jerusalem 
already, and to school-book agents that I would see them 
hanged before I would be bribed to introduce their text 
books into the schools she and I were at work together, as 
in those old dreamy days and in these of our log-cabh> 
again. But all this could not last and at length poor Den- 
nis, my double, overtasked in turn, undid me. 

It was thus it happened. There is an excellent fellow 


ance a minister I will call him Isaacs who deserves well 
of the world till he dies, and after because he once, in a 
real exigency, did the right thing, in the right way, at the 
right time, as no other man could do it. In the world's great 
football match, the ball by chance found him loitering on the 
outside of the field; he closed with it, "camped" it, charged 
it home yes, right through the other side not disturbed, 
not frightened by his own success and breathless found 
himself a great man as the Great Delta rang applause. 
But he did not find himself a rich man ; and the football has 
never come in his way again. From that moment to this 
moment he has been of no use, that one can see, at all. Still, 
for that great act we speak of Isaacs gratefully and remem 
ber him kindly; and he forges on, hoping to meet the foot 
ball somewhere again. In that vague hope, he had ar 
ranged a "movement" for a general organization of the 
human family into Debating Clubs, County Societies, State 
Unions, etc., etc., with a view of inducing all children to take 
hold of the handles of their knives and forks, instead of the 
metal. Children have bad habits in that way. The move 
ment, of course, was absurd; but we all did our best to for 
ward, not it, but him. It came time for the annual county- 
meeting on this subject to be held at Naguadavick. Isaacs 
came round, good fellow! to arrange for it got the town- 
ball, got the Governor to preside (the saint! he ought to 
have triplet doubles provided him by law), and then came 
to get me to speak. "No," I said, "I would not speak, if 
ten Governors presided. I do not believe in the enterprise. 
If I spoke, it should be to say children should take hold of 
the prongs of the forks and the blades of the knives. I 
would subscribe ten dollars, but I would not speak a mill." 
So poor Isaacs went his way, sadly, to coax Auchmuty to 
speak, and Delafield. I went out. Not long after, he came 
back, and told Polly that they had promised to speak the 
Governor would speak and he himself would close with the 
quarterly report, and some interesting anecdotes regarding 
Miss Biffin's way of handling her knife and Mr. Nellis's way 
of footing his fork. "Now if Mr. Ingham will only come and 
sit on the platform, he need not say one word; but it will 


show well in the paper it will show that the Sandemanians 
take as much interest in the movement as the Armenians or 
the Mesopotamians, and will be a great favor to me." Polly, 
good soul! was tempted, and she promised. She knew Mrs. 
Isaacs was starving, and the babies she knew Dennis was 
at home and she promised! Night came, and I returned. 
I heard her story. I was sorry. I doubted. But Polly had 
promised to beg me, and I dared all ! I told Dennis to hold 
his peace, under all circumstances, and sent him down. 

It was not half an hour more before he returned, wild with 
excitement in a perfect Irish fury which it was long be 
fore I understood. But I knew at once that he had un 
done me! 

What happened was this: The audience got together, at 
tracted by Governor Gorges's name. There were a thousand 
people. Poor Gorges was late from Augusta. They became 
impatient. He came in direct from the train at last, really 
ignorant of the object of the meeting. He opened it in the 
fewest possible words, and said other gentlemen were present 
who would entertain them better than he. The audience 
were disappointed, but waited. The Governor, prompted 
by Isaacs, said, "The Honorable Mr. Delafield will address 
you." Delafield had forgotten the knives and forks, and was 
playing the Ruy Lopez opening at the chess club. "The 
Rev. Mr. Auchmuty will address you." Auchmuty had 
promised to speak late, and was at the school committee. 
"I see Dr. Stearns in the hall; perhaps he will say a word." 
Dr. Stearns said he had come to listen and not to speak. 
The Governor and Isaacs whispered. The Governor looked 
at Dennis, who was resplendent on the platform; but Isaacs, 
to give him his due, shook his head. But the look was 
enough. A miserable lad, ill-bred, who had once been in 
Boston, thought it would sound well to call for me, and 
peeped out, "Ingham!" A few more wretches cried, "Ing- 
ham! Ingham!" Still Isaacs was firm; but the Governor, 
anxious, indeed, to prevent a row, knew I would say some 
thing, and said, "Our friend Mr. Ingham is always prepared 
and though we had not relied upon him, he will say a 
word, perhaps." Applause followed, which turned Dennis's 


head. He rose, flattered, and tried No. 3 : "There has been 
so much said, and, on the whole, so well said, that I will 
not longer occupy the time!" and sat down, looking for his 
hat; for things seemed squally. But the people cried, "Go 
on! go on!" and some applauded. Dennis, still confused, 
but flattered by the applause, to ivhich neither he nor I are 
used, rose again, and this time tried No. 2 : "I am very glad 
you liked it!" in a sonorous, clear delivery. My best friends 
stared. All the people who did not know me personally 
yelled with delight at the aspect of the evening; the Gov 
ernor was beside himself, and poor Isaacs thought he was 
jiidone! Alas, it was I! A boy in the gallery cried in a 
loud tone, "It's all an infernal humbug," just as Dennis, 
waving his hand, commanded silence, and tried No. 4: "I 
agree, in general, with my friend the other side of the room." 
The poor Governor doubted his senses, and crossed to stop 
him -not in time, however. The same gallery -boy shouted, 
"How's your mother?" and Dennis, now completely lost, 
tried, as his last shot, No. i, vainly: "Very well, thank you; 
and you?" 

I think I must have been undone already. But Dennis, 
like another Lockhard, chose "to make sicker." The audi 
ence rose in a whirl of amazement, rage, and sorrow. Some 
other impertinence, aimed at Dennis, broke all restraint, 
and, in pure Irish, he delivered himself of an address to the 
gallery, inviting any person who wished to fight to come 
down and do so stating, that they were all dogs and cow 
ards that he would take any five of them single-handed. 
"Shure, I have said all his Riverence and the Misthress bade 
me say," cried he, in defiance; and, seizing the Governor's 
cane from his hand, brandished it, quarter-staff fashion, above 
his head. He was, indeed, got from the hall only with the 
greatest difficulty by the Governor, the City Marshal, who 
had been called in, and the Superintendent of my Sunday 

The universal impression, of course, was, that the Rev. 
Frederic Ingham had lost all command of himself in some 
of those haunts of intoxication which for fifteen years I 
have been laboring to destroy. Till this moment, indeed, 


that is the impression in Naguadavick. This number of 
The Atlantic will relieve from it a hundred friends of mine 
who have been sadly wounded by that notion now for years 
but I shall not be likely ever to show my head there again. 

No! My double has undone me. 

We left town at seven the next morning. I came to No. 
9, in the Third Range, and settled on the Minister's Lot. 
In the new towns in Maine, the first settled minister has a 
gift of a hundred acres of land. I am the first settled min 
ister in No. 9. My wife and little Paulina are my parish. 
We raise corn enough to live on in summer. We kill bear's 
meat enough to carbonize it in winter. I work on steadily 
on my Traces of Sandemanianism in the Sixth and Seventh 
Centuries, which I hope to persuade Phillips, Sampson & 
Co. to publish next year. We are very happy, but the world 
thinks we are undone. 





HAVING just returned from a visit to this admirable In 
stitution in company with a friend who is one of the 
Directors, we propose giving a short account of what 
Vve saw and heard. The great success of the Asylum for 
Idiots and Feeble-minded Youth, several of the scholars from 
which have reached considerable distinction, one of them 
being connected with a leading Daily Paper in this city, and 
others having served in the State and National Legislatures, 
was the motive which led to the foundation of this excellent 
charity. Our late distinguished townsman, Noah Dow, Es 
quire, as is well known, bequeathed a large portion of his 
fortune to this establishment "being thereto moved," as his 
will expressed it, "by the desire of N. Dowing some public 
Institution for the benefit of Mankind." Being consulted as 
to the Rules of the Institution and the selection of a Super 
intendent, he replied, that "all Boards must construct their 
own Platforms of operation. Let them select anyhow and he 
should be pleased." N. E. Howe, Esq., was chosen in com 
pliance with this delicate suggestion. 

The Charter provides for the support of "One hundred 
aged and decayed Gentlemen-Punsters." On inquiry if there 
way no provision for females, my friend called my attention 
to this remarkable psychological fact, namely: 


This remark struck me forcibly, and on reflection I found 
that / never knew nor heard of one, though I have once or 

From The Atlantic Monthly, January, 1861. Republished in 
Soundings from the Atlantic (1864), by Oliver Wendell Holmes, 
whose Authorized publishers are the Houghton Mifflin Company. 



fewice heard a woman make a single detached pun, as I have 
known a hen to crow. 

On arriving at the south gate of the Asylum grounds, I 
was about to ring, but my friend held my arm and begged 
me to rap with my stick, which I did. An old man with a 
very comical face presently opened the gate and put out his 

"So you prefer Cane to A bell, do you?" he said and 
began chuckling and coughing at a great rate. 

My friend winked at me. 

"You're here still, Old Joe, I see," he said to the old man. 

"Yes, yes and it's very odd, considering how often I've 
bolted, nights." 

He then threw open the double gates for us to ride 

"Now," said the old man, as fie pulled the gates after us, 
"you've had a long journey." 

"Why, how is that, Old Joe?" said my friend. 

"Don't you see?" he answered; "there's the East hinges 
on the one side of the gate, and there's the West hinges on 
t'other side haw! haw! haw!" 

We had no sooner got into the yard than a feeble little 
gentleman, with a remarkably bright eye, came up to us, 
looking very serious, as if something had happened. 

"The town has entered a complaint against the Asylum 
as a gambling establishment," he said to my friend, the Di 

"What do you mean?" said my friend. 

"Why, they complain that there's a lot o' rye on the prem 
ises," he answered, pointing to a field of that grain and 
hobbled away, his shoulders shaking with laughter, as he 

On entering the main building, we saw the Rules and 
Regulations for the Asylum conspicuously posted up. I 
made a few extracts which may be interesting: 

5. Each Inmate shall be permitted to make* Puns freely 


from eight in the morning until ten at night, except during 
Service in the Ohapel and Grace before Meals. 

6. At ten o'clock the gas will be turned off, and no fur 
ther Puns, Conundrums, or other play on words will be 
allowed to be uttered, or to be uttered aloud. 

9. Inmates who have lost their faculties and cannot any 
longer make Puns shall be permitted to repeat such as may 
be selected for them by the Chaplain out of the work of Mr. 
Joseph Miller. 

10. Violent and unmanageable Punsters, who interrupt 
others when engaged in conversation, with Puns or attempts 
at the same, shall be deprived of their Joseph Millers, and, 
if necessary, placed in solitary confinement. 


4. No Inmate shall make any Pun, or attempt at the 
same, until the Blessing has been asked and the company 
are decently seated. 

7. Certain Puns having been placed on the Index Ex- 
purgatorius of the Institution, no Inmate shall be allowed 
to utter them, on pain of being debarred the perusal of Punch 
and Vanity Fair, and, if repeated, deprived of his Joseph 

Among these are the following: 

Allusions to Attic salt, when asked to pass the salt-cellar. 

Remarks on the Inmates being mustered, etc., etc. 

Associating baked beans with the ^ewe-factors of the In 

Saying that beef-eating is befitting, etc., etc. 

The following are also prohibited, excepting to such In' 
mates as may have lost their faculties and cannot any longer 
make Puns of their own: 

" your own hair or a wig"; "it will be long enough," 

etc., etc.; "little of its age," etc., etc.; also, playing upon 
the following words: hospital; mayor; pun; pitied; bread; 
sauce, etc., etc., etc. See INDEX EXPURGATORIUS, printed 
\or use of Inmates. 

The subjoined Conundrum is not allowed: Why is Hasty 


Pudding like the Prince? Because it comes attended by itfc 
sweet; nor this variation to it, to wit: Because the 'lasses 
runs after it. 

The Superintendent, who went round with us, had been 
a noted punster in his time, and well known in the business 
world, but lost his customers by making too free with then 
names as in the famous story he set afloat in '29 of four 
Jerries attaching to the names of a noted Judge, an eminent 
Lawyer, the Secretary of the Board of Foreign Missions, and 
the well-known Landlord at Springfield. One of the four 
Jerries, he added, was of gigantic magnitude. The play on 
words was brought out by an accidental remark of Solomons, 
the well-known Banker. "Capital punishment!" the Jew 
was overheard saying, with reference to the guilty parties. 
He was understood, as saying, A capital pun is meant, which 
led to an investigation and the relief of the greatly excited 
public mind. 

The Superintendent showed some of his old tendencies, as 
he went round with us. 

"Do you know" he broke out all at once "why f hey 
don't take steppes in Tartary for establishing Insane Kos* 

We both confessed ignorance. 

"Because there are nomad people to be found there," he 
said, with a dignified smile. 

He proceeded to introduce us to different Inmates. The 
first was a middle-aged, scholarly man, who was seated at 
a table with a Webster's Dictionary and a sheet of paper 
before him. 

"Well, what luck to-day, Mr. Mowzer?" said the Super 

"Three or four only," said Mr. Mowzer. "Will you hear 
'em now now I'm here?" 

We all nodded. 

"Don't you see Webster ers in the words center and 

"If he spells leather lether, and feather fether, isn't there 
danger that he'll give us a bad spell of weather? 


"Besides, Webster is a resurrectionist; he does not allow 
'/ to rest quietly in the mould. 

"And again, because Mr. Worcester inserts an illustration 
in his text, is that any reason why Mr. Webster's publishers 
should hitch one on in their appendix? It's what I call a 
Connect-a-cut trick. 

"Why is his way of spelling like the floor of an oven? 
Because it is under bread." 

"Mowzer!" said the Superintendent, "that word is on 
the- Index!" 

"I forgot," said Mr. Mowzer; "please don't deprive me 
of Vanity Fair this one time, sir." 

"These are all, this morning. Good day, gentlemen." 
Then to the Superintendent: "Add you, sir!" 

The next Inmate was a semi-idiotic-looking old man. He 
had a heap of block-letters before him, and, as we came up, 
he pointed, without saying a word, to the arrangements he 
had made with them on the table. They were evidently 
anagrams, and had the merft of transposing the letters of 
the words employed without addition or subtraction. Here 
are a few of them: 








The mention of several New York papers led to two or 
three questions. Thus: Whether the Editor of The Tribune 
was H. G. really? If the complexion of his politics were 
not accounted for by his being an eager person himself? 
Whether Wendell Fillips were not a reduced copy of John 


Knocks? Whether a New York Feuittetoniste is not the 
same thing as a Fellow down East? 

At this time a plausible-looking, bald-headed man joined 
us, evidently waiting to take a part in the conversation. 

"Good morning, Mr. Higgles," said the Superintendent. 
"Anything fresh this morning? Any Conundrum?" 

"I haven't looked at the cattle," he answered, dryly. 

"Cattle? Why cattle?" 

"Why, to see if there's any corn under 'em!" he said; and 
immediately asked, "Why is Douglas like the earth?" 

We tried, but couldn't guess. 

"Because he was flattened out at the polls!" said Mr. 

"A famous politician, formerly," said the Superintendent. 
"His grandfather was a seize-Hessian-ist in the Revolution 
ary War. By the way, I hear the freeze-oil doctrines don't 
go down at New Bedford." 

The next Inmate looked as if he might have been a sailor 

c 'Ask him what his calling was," said the Superintendent. 

"Followed the sea," he replied to the question put by one 
of us. "Went as mate in a fishing-schooner." 

"Why did you give it up?" 

"Because I didn't like working for two mast-ers" he re 

Presently we came upon a group of elderly persons, gath 
ered about a venerable gentleman with flowing locks, who 
was propounding questions to a row of Inmates. 

"Can any Inmate give me a motto for M. Berger?" he 

Nobody responded for two or three minutes. At last 
one old man, whom I at once recognized as a Graduate of 
our University (Anno 1800) held up his hand. 

"Rem a cue tetigit." 

"Go to the head of the class, Josselyn," said the venerable 

The successful Inmate did as he was told, but in a very 
rough way, pushing against two or three of the Class. 

"How is this?" said the Patriarch. 


"You told me to go up jostlin'," he replied. 

The old gentlemen who had been shoved about enjoyed 
Ihe pun too much to be angry. 

Presently the Patriarch asked again: 

"Why was M. Berger authorized to go to the dances given 
to the Prince?" 

The Class had to give up this, and he answered it him 

"Because every one of his carroms was a tick-it to the 

"Who collects the money to defray the expenses of the 
last campaign in Italy?" asked the Patriarch. 

Here again the Class failed. 

"The war-cloud's rolling Dun," he answered. 

"And what is mulled wine made with?" 

Three or four voices exclaimed at once: 

"Sizzle-y Madeira!" 

Here a servant entered, and said, "Luncheon-time." The 
old gentlemen, who have excellent appetites, dispersed at 
once, one of them politely asking us if we would not stop and 
have a bit of bread and a little mite of cheese. 

"There is one thing I have forgotten to show you," said 
the Superintendent, "the cell for the confinement of violent 
and unmanageable Punsters." 

We were very curious to see it, particularly with refer 
ence to the alleged absence of every object upon which a 
play of words could possibly be made. 

The Superintendent led us up some dark stairs to a cor 
ridor, then along a narrow passage, then down a broad flight 
of steps into another passageway, and opened a large door 
which looked out on the main entrance. 

"We have not seen the cell for the confinement of 'violent 
and unmanageable' Punsters," we both exclaimed. 

"This is the sett!" he exclaimed, pointing to the outside 

My friend, the Director, looked me in the face so good- 
naturedly that I had to laugh. 

"We like to humor the Inmates," he said. "It has a bad 
effect, we find, on their health and spirits to disappoint them 


of their little pleasantries. Some of the jests to which we 
have listened are not new to me, though I dare say you may 
not have heard them often before. The same thing happens 
in general society, with this additional disadvantage, that 
there is no punishment provided for 'violent and unmanage 
able' Punsters, as in our Institution." 

We made our bow to the Superintendent and walked to 
the place where our carriage was waiting ror us. On our 
way, an exceedingly decrepit old man moved slowly toward 
us, with a perfectly blank look on his face, but still appear 
ing as if he wished to speak. 

"Look!" said the Director "that is our Centenarian." 

The ancient man crawled toward us, cocked one eye, with 
which he seemed to see a little, up at us, and said: 

"Sarvant, young Gentlemen. Why is a a a like a 
a a ? Give it up? Because it's a a a a ." 

He smiled a pleasant smile, as if it were all plain enough. 

"One hundred and seven last Christmas,' 5 said the Direc 
tor. Of late eyars he puts his whole Conundrums in olank 
but they please him just as well." 

We took our departure, much gratified and instructed jy 
our visit, hoping to have some future opportunity of inspect 
ing the Records of this excellent Charity and making extracts 
for the benefit of our Readers. 



BY MARK TWAIN (1835-1910) 

[N COMPLIANCE with the request of a friend of mine, 
who wrote me from the East, I called on good-natured, 
garrulous old Simon Wheeler, and inquired after my 
friend's friend, Leonidas W. Smiley, as requested to do, and 
I hereunto append the result. I have a lurking suspicion that 
Leonidas W. Smiley is a myth; and that my friend never 
knew such a personage; and that he only conjectured that 
if I asked old Wheeler about him, it would remind him of 
his infamous Jim Smiley, and he would go to work and bore 
me to death with some exasperating reminiscence of him as 
long and as tedious as it should be useless to me. If that 
was the design, it succeeded. 

I found Simon Wheeler dozing comfortably by the bar 
room stove of the dilapidated tavern in the decayed mining 
camp of Angel's, and I noticed that he was fat and bald- 
headed, and had an expression of winning gentleness and sim 
plicity upon his tranquil countenance. He roused up, and 
gave me good-day. I told him a friend had commissioned 
me to make some inquiries about a cherished companion of 
his boyhood named Leonidas W. Smiley Rev. Leonidas W. 
Smiley, a young minister of the Gospel, who he had heard 
was at one time a resident of Angel's Camp. I added that 
if Mr. Wheeler could tell me anything about this Rev. Leoni 
das W. Smiley, I would feel under many obligations to him. 

From The Saturday Press, Nov. 18, 1865. Republished in The 
Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, and Other 
Sketches (1867), by Mark Twain, all of whose works are pub 
lished by Harper & Brothers. 



Simon Wheeler backed me into a corner and blockaded 
me there with his chair, and then sat down and reeled off 
tiie monotonous narrative which follows this paragraph. He 
never smiled, he never frowned, he never changed his voice 
from the gentle-flowing key to which he tuned his initial 
sentence, he never betrayed the slightest suspicion of en 
thusiasm; but all through the interminable narrative there 
ran a vein of impressive earnestness and sincerity, which 
showed me plainly that, so far from his imagining that there 
was anything ridiculous or funny about his story, he re 
garded it as a really important matter, and admired its two 
heroes as men of transcendent genius in finesse. I let him 
go on in his own way, and never interrupted him once. 

"Rev. Leonidas W. H'm, Reverend Le well, there was 
a feller here once by the name of Jim Smiley, in the winter 
of '49 or may be it was the spring of '50 I don't recollect 
exactly, somehow, though what makes me think it was one 
or the other is because I remember the big flume warn't 
finished when he first came to the camp; but any way, he 
was the curiousest man about always betting on anything 
that turned up you ever see, if he could get anybody to bet 
on the other side ; and if he couldn't he'd change sides. Any 
way that suited the other man would suit him any way 
just so's he got a bet, he was satisfied. But still he was 
lucky, uncommon lucky; he most always come out winner. 
He was always ready and laying for a chance; there couldn't 
be no solit'ry thing mentioned but that feller'd offer to bet 
on it, and take ary side you please, as I was just telling 
you. If there was a horse-race, you'd find him flush or you'd 
find him busted at the end of it; if there was a dog-fight, 
he'd bet on it; if there was a cat-fight, he'd bet on it; if 
there was a chicken-fight, he'd bet on it; why, if there was 
two birds setting on a fence, he would bet you which one 
would fly first; or if there was a camp-meeting, he would be 
there reg'lar to bet on Parson Walker, which he judged to 
be the best exhorter about here, and he was, too, and a good 
man. If he even see a straddle-bug start to go anywheres, 
he would bet you how long it would take him to get to to 
wherever he was going to, and if you took him up, he would 


foller that straddle-bug to Mexico but what he would find 
out where he was bound for and how long he was on the 
road. Lots of the boys here has seen that Smiley and can 
tell you about him. Why, it never made no difference to 
him he'd bet on any thing the dangest feller. Parson 
Walker's wife laid very sick once, for a good while, and it 
seemed as if they warn't going to save her; but one morning 
he come in, and Smiley up and asked him how she was, and 
he said she was considerable better thank the Lord for his 
inf'nit' mercy and coming on so smart that with the bless 
ing of Prov'dence she'd get well yet; and Smiley, before he 
thought, says, "Well, I'll risk two-and-a-half she don't any 

Thish-yer Smiley had a mare the boys called her the fif 
teen-minute nag, but that was only in fun, you know, be 
cause, of course, she was faster than that and he used to 
win money on that horse, for all she was so slow and always 
had the asthma, or the distemper, or the consumption, or 
something of that kind. They used to give her two or 
three hundred yards start, and then pass her under way; 
but always at the fag-end of the race she'd get excited and 
desperate-like, and come cavorting and straddling up, and 
scattering her legs around limber, sometimes in the air, and 
sometimes out to one side amongst the fences, and kicking 
up m-o-r-e dust and raising m-o-r-e racket with her cough 
ing and sneezing and blowing her nose and always fetch up 
at the stand just about a neck ahead, as near as you could 
cipher it down. 

And he had a little small bull-pup, that to look at him 
you'd think he warn't worth a cent but to set around and 
look ornery and lay for a chance to steal something. But as 
soon as money was up on him he was a different dog; his 
tmder-jaw'd begin to stick out like the fo'-castle of a steam 
boat, and .his teeth would uncover and shine like the fur 
naces. And a dog might tackle him and bully-rag him, and 
bite him, and throw him over his shoulder two or three 
times, and Andrew Jackson which was the name of the 
pup Andrew Jackson would never let on but what he was 
satisfied, and hadn't expected nothing else and the bets 


being doubled and doubled on the other side all the time, 
till the money was all up; and then all of a sudden he would 
grab that other dog jest by the j'int of his hind leg and 
freeze to it not chaw, you understand, but only just grip 
and hang on till they throwed up the sponge, if it was a 
year. Smiley always come out winner on 'that pup, till he 
harnessed a dog once that didn't have no hind legs, because 
they'd been sawed off in a circular saw, and when the thing 
had gone along far enough, and the money was all up, and 
he come to make a snatch for his pet holt, he see in a minute 
how he'd been imposed on, and how the other dog had him 
in the door, so to speak, and he 'peared surprised, and then 
he looked sorter discouraged-like, and didn't try no more to 
win the fight, and so he got shucked out bad. He gave 
Smiley a look, as much as to say his heart was broke, and 
it was his fault, for putting up a dog that hadn't no hind 
legs for him to take holt of, which was his main dependence 
in a fight, and then he limped off a piece and laid down and 
died. It was a good pup, was that Andrew Jackson, and 
would have made a name for hisself if he'd lived, for the 
stuff was in him and he had genius I know it, because he 
hadn't no opportunities to speak of, and it don't stand to 
reason that a dog could make such a fight as he could under 
them circumstances if he hadn't no talent. It always makes 
me feel sorry when I think of that last fight of his'n, and 
the way it turned out. 

Well, thish-yer Smiley had rat-tarriers, and chicken cocks, 
and tom-cats and all of them kind of things, till you couldn't 
rest, and you couldn't fetch nothing for him to bet on but 
he'd match you. He ketched a frog one day, and took him 
home, and said he cal'lated to educate him; and so he never 
done nothing for three months but set in his back yard and 
learn that frog to jump. And you bet you he did learn 
him, too. He'd give him a little punch behind, and the next 
minute you'd see that frog whirling in the air like a dough 
nut see him turn one summerset, or may be a couple, if he 
got a good start, and come down flat-footed and all right, like 
a cat. He got him up so in the matter of ketching flies, and 
kep' him in practice so constant, that he'd nail a fly every 


time as fur as he could see him. Smiley said all a frog 
wanted was education, and he could do 'most anything 
and I believe him. Why, I've seen him set Dan'l Webster 
down here on this floor Dan'l Webster was the name of 
the frog and sing out, "Flies, Dan'l, flies!" and quicker'n 
you could wink he'd spring straight up and snake a fly off 'n 
the counter there, and flop down on the floor ag'in as solid as 
a gob of mud, and fall to scratching the side of his head 
with his hind foot as indifferent as if he hadn't no idea he'd 
been doin' any more'n any frog might do. You never see 
a frog so modest and straightfor'ard as he was, for all he 
was so gifted. And when it come to fair and square jump 
ing on a dead level, he could get over more ground at one 
straddle than any animal of his breed you ever see. Jump 
ing on a dead level was his strong suit, you understand; and 
when it come to that, Smiley would ante up money on him 
as long as he had a red. Smiley was monstrous proud of 
his frog, and well he might be, for fellers that had traveled 
and been everywheres, all said he laid over any frog that 
ever they see. 

Well, Smiley kep' the beast in a little lattice box, and 
he used to fetch him downtown sometimes and lay for a 
bet. One day a feller a stranger in the camp, he was 
come acrost him with his box, and says: 

"What might be that you've got in the box?" 

And Smiley says, sorter indifferent-like, "It might be a 
parrot, or it might be a canary, maybe, but it ain't it's only 
just a frog." 

And the feller took it, and looked at it careful, and turned 
it round this way and that, and says, "H'm so 'tis. Well, 
what's he good for?" 

"Well," Smiley says, easy and careless, "he's good enough 
for one thing, I should judge he can outjump any frog in 
Calaveras county." 

The feller took the box again, and took another long, 
particular look, and give it back to Smiley, and says, very 
deliberate, "Well," he says, "I don't see no p'ints about that 
frog that's any better'n any other frog." 

"Maybe you don't," Smiley says. "Maybe you understand 


frogs and maybe you don't understand 'em; maybe you've 
had experience, and maybe you ain't only a amature, as 
it were. Anyways, I've got my opinion and I'll risk forty 
dollars that he can outjump any frog in Calaveras County." 

And the feller studied a minute, and then says, kinder 
sad like, "Well, I'm only a stranger here, and I ain't got no 
frog; but if I had a frog, I'd bet you." 

And then Smiley says, "That's all right that's all right 
if you'll hold my box a minute, I'll go and get you a frog.'* 
And so the feller took the box, and put up his forty dollars 
along with Smiley's, and set down to wait. 

So he set there a good while thinking and thinking to his- 
self, and then he got the frog out and prized his mouth open 
and took a teaspoon and filled him full of quail shot filled 
him pretty near up to his chin and set him on the floor. 
Smiley he went to the swamp and slopped around in the mud 
for a long time, and finally he ketched a frog, and fetched 
him in, and give him to this feller, and says: 

"Now, if you're ready, set him alongside of Dan'l, with 
his forepaws just even with Dan'Ps, and I'll give the word." 
Then he says, "One two three git!" and him and the 
feller touched up the frogs from behind, and the new frog 
hopped off lively, but Dan'l give a heave, and hysted up 
his shoulders so like a Frenchman, but it warn't no use 
he couldn't budge; he was planted as solid as a church, and 
he couldn't no more stir than if he was anchored out. Smiley 
was a good deal surprised, and he was disgusted too, but 
he didn't have no idea what the matter was, of course. 

The feller took the money and started away; and when 
he was going out at the door, he sorter jerked his thumb 
over his shoulder so at Dan'l, and says again, very delib 
erate, "Well," he says, "/ don't see no p'ints about that 
frog that's any better'n any other frog." 

Smiley he stood scratching his head and looking down at 
Dan'l a long time, and at last says, "I do wonder what in 
the nation that frog throwed off for I wonder if there ain't 
something the matter with him he 'pears to look mighty 
baggy, somehow." And he ketched Dan'l up by the nap 
of the neck 3 and hefted him, and says, "Why blame my cats 


if he don't weigh five pounds!" and turned him upside down 
and he belched out a double handful of shot. And then he 
see how it was, and he was the maddest man he set the 
frog down and took out after that feller, but he never 
ketched him. And " 

(Here Simon Wheeler heard his name called from the 
front yard, and got up to see what was wanted.) And 
turning to me as he moved away, he said: "Just set where 
you are, stranger, and rest easy I ain't going to be gone a 

But, by your leave, i did not think that a continuation 
of the history of the enterprising vagabond Jim Smiley would 
be likely to afford me much information concerning the Rev. 
Leonidas W. Smiley, and so I started away. 

At the door I met the sociable Wheeler returning, and he 
buttonholed me and recommenced: 

"Well, thish-yer Smiley had a yaller, one-eyed cow that 
didn't have no tail, only jest a short stump like a bannanner, 

However, lacking both time and inclination, I did not 
wait to hear about the afflicted cow, but took my leave. 



ELDER BROWN told his wife good-by at the farmhouse 
door as mechanically as though his proposed trip to 
Macon, ten miles away, was an everyday affair, while, 
as a matter of fact, many years had elapsed since unaccom 
panied he set foot in the city. He did not kiss her. Many 
very good men never kiss their wives. But small blame at 
taches to the elder for his omission on this occasion, since his 
wife had long ago discouraged all amorous demonstrations on 
the part of her liege lord, and at this particular moment was 
filling the parting moments with a rattling list of directions 
concerning thread, buttons, hooks, needles, and all the many 
etceteras of an industrious housewife's basket. The elder 
was laboriously assorting these postscript commissions in his 
memory, well knowing that to return with any one of them 
neglected would cause trouble in the family circle. 

Elder Brown mounted his patient steed that stood sleepily 
motionless in the warm sunlight, with his great pointed ears 
displayed to the right and left, as though their owner had 
grown tired of the life burden their weight inflicted upon 
him, and was, old soldier fashion, ready to forego the once 
rigid alertness of early training for the pleasures of fre 
quent rest on arms. 

"And, elder, don't you forgit them caliker scraps, or 
you'll be wantin' kiver soon an' no kiver will be a-comin'." 

Elder Brown did not turn his head, but merely let the 
whip hand, which had been checked in its backward motion, 

From Harper's Magazine, August, 1885; copyright, 1885, by 
Harper & Bros. ; republished in the volume, Two Runaways, and 
Other Stories (1889), by Harry Stillwell Edwards (The Cen 
tury Co.). 



fall as he answered mechanically. The beast he be 
strode responded with a rapid -whisking of its tail and a 
great show of effort, as it ambled off down the sandy road, 
the rider's long legs seeming now and then to touch the 

But as the zigzag panels of the rail fence crept behind 
him, and he felt the freedom of the morning beginning to act 
upon his well-trained blood, the mechanical manner of the 
old man's mind gave place to a mild exuberance. A weight 
seemed to be lifting from it ounce by ounce as the fence 
panels, the weedy corners, the persimmon sprouts and sassa 
fras bushes crept away behind him, so that by the time a 
mile lay between him and the life partner of his joys and 
sorrows he was in a reasonably contented frame of mind, 
and still improving. 

It was a queer figure that crept along the road that cheery 
May morning. It was tall and gaunt, and had been for 
thirty years or more. The long head, bald on top, covered 
behind with iron-gray hair, and in front with a short tangled 
growth that curled and kinked in every direction, was sur 
mounted by an old-fashioned stove-pipe hat, worn and 
stained, but eminently i/npressive. An old-fashioned Henry 
Clay cloth coat, stained and threadbare, divided itself im 
partially over the donkey's back and dangled on his sides. 
This was all that remained of the elder's wedding suit of 
forty years ago. Only constant care, and use of late years 
limited to extra occasions, had preserved it so long. The 
trousers had soon parted company with their friends. The 
substitutes were red jeans, which, while they did not well 
match his court costume, were better able to withstand the 
old man's abuse, for if, in addition to his frequent religious 
excursions astride his beast, there ever was a man who was 
fond of sitting down with his feet higher than his head, it 
was this selfsame Elder Brown. 

The morning expanded, and the old man expanded with 
it; for while a vigorous leader in his church, the elder at 
home was, it must be admitted, an uncomplaining slave. To 
the intense astonishment of the beast he rode, there came 
new vigor into the whacks which fell upon his flanks; and 


die beast allowed astonishment to surprise him into real life 
and decided motion. Somewhere in the elder's expanding 
soul a tune had begun to ring. Possibly he took up the far, 
faint tune that came from the straggling gang of negroes 
away off in the field, as they slowly chopped amid the thread 
like rows of cotton plants which lined the level ground, for 
the melody he hummed softly and then sang strongly, in the 
quavering, catchy tones of a good old country churchman, 
was "I'm glad salvation's free." 

It was during the singing of this hymn that Elder Brown's 
regular motion-inspiring strokes were for the first time va 
ried. He began to hold his hickory up at certain pauses in 
the melody, and beat the changes upon the sides of his as 
tonished steed. The chorus under this arrangement was: 

I'm glad salvation's free, 
I'm glad salvation's free, 
I'm glad salvation's free for all, 
I'm glad salvation's free. 

Wherever there is an italic, the hickory descended. It 
fell about as regularly and after the fashion of the stick 
beating upon the bass drum during a funeral march. But 
the beast, although convinced that something serious was 
impending, did not consider a funeral march appropriate for 
the occasion. He protested, at first, with vigorous whiskings 
of his tail and a rapid shifting of his ears. Finding these 
demonstrations unavailing, and convinced that some urgent 
cause for hurry had suddenly invaded the elder's serenity, 
as it had his own, he began to cover the ground with frantic 
leaps that would have surprised his owner could he have 
realized what was going on. But Elder Brown's eyes were 
half closed, and he was singing at the top of his voice. Lost 
in a trance of divine exaltation, for he felt the effects of the 
invigorating motion, bent only on making the air ring with 
the lines which he dimly imagined were drawing upon him 
the eyes of the whole female congregation, he was supremely 
unconscious that his beast was hurrying. 

And thus the excursion proceeded, until suddenly a shote, 
surprised in his calm search for roots in a fence corner, darted 


into the road, and stood for an instant gazing upon the new 
comers with that idiotic stare which only a pig can imitate. 
The sudden appearance of this unlooked-for apparition 
acted strongly upon the donkey. With one supreme effort 
he collected himself into a motionless mass of matter, bracing 
his front legs wide apart; that is to say, he stopped short. 
There he stood, returning the pig's idiotic stare with an in 
terest which must have led to the presumption that never 
before in all his varied life had he seen such a singular little 
creature. End over end went the man of prayer, finally 
bringing up full length in the sand, striking just as he should 
have shouted "free" for the fourth time in his glorious 

Fully convinced that his alarm had been well founded, 
the shote sped out from under the gigantic missile hurled at 
him by the donkey, and scampered down the road, turning 
first one ear and then the other to detect any sounds of pur 
suit. The donkey, also convinced that the object before 
which he had halted was supernatural, started back violently 
upon seeing it apparently turn to a man. But seeing that 
it had turned to nothing but a man, he wandered up into 
the deserted fence corner, and began to nibble refreshment 
from a scrub oak. 

For a moment the elder gazed up into the sky, half im 
pressed with the idea that the camp-meeting platform had 
given way. But the truth forced its way to the front in 
his disordered understanding at last, and with painful dig 
nity he staggered into an upright position, and regained his 
beaver. He was shocked again. Never before in all the 
long years it had served him had he seen it in such shape. 
The truth is, Elder Brown had never before tried to stand 
on his head in it. As calmly as possible he began to 
straighten it out, caring but little for the dust upon his gar 
ments. The beaver was his special crown of dignity. To 
lose it was to be reduced to a level with the common wool- 
hat herd. He did his best, pulling, pressing, and pushing, 
but the hat did not look natural when he had finished. It 
seemed to have been laid off into counties, sections, and 
town lots. Like a well-cut jewel, it had a face for him, 


view it from whatever point he chose, a quality which so 
impressed him that a lump gathered in his throat, and his 
eyes winked vigorously. 

Elder Brown was not, however, a man for tears. He was 
a man of action. The sudden vision which met his wander 
ing gaze, the donkey calmly chewing scrub buds, with the 
green juice already oozing from the corners of his frothy 
mouth, acted upon him like magic. He was, after all, only 
human, and when he got hands upon a piece of brush he 
thrashed the poor beast until it seemed as though even its 
already half-tanned hide would be eternally ruined. Thor 
oughly exhausted at last, he wearily straddled his saddle, and 
with his chin upon his breast resumed the early morning 
tenor of his way. 


"Good-mornin', sir." 

Elder Brown leaned over the little pine picket which di 
vided the bookkeepers' department of a Macon warehouse 
from the room in general, and surveyed the well-dressed back 
of a gentleman who was busily figuring at a desk within. 
The apartment was carpetless, and the dust of a decade 
lay deep on the old books, shelves, and the familiar advep 
tisements of guano and fertilizers which decorated the room. 
An old stove, rusty with the nicotine contributed by farm 
ers during the previous season while waiting by its glowing 
sides for their cotton to be sold, stood straight up in a bed 
of sand, and festoons of cobwebs clung to the upper sashes 
of the murky windows. The lower sash of one window had 
been raised, and in the yard without, nearly an acre in ex 
tent, lay a few bales of cotton, with jagged holes in their 
ends, just as the sampler had left them. Elder Brown had 
time to notice all these familiar points, for the figure at the 
desk kept serenely at its task, and deigned no reply. 

"Good-mornin', sir," said Elder Brown again, in his most 
dignified tones. "Is Mr. Thomas in?" 

"Good-morning, sir," said the figure. "I'll wait on 3*011 
in a minute." The minute passed, and four more joined K 
Then the desk man turned. 


"Well, sir, what can I do for you?" 

The elder was not in the best of humor when he arrived, 
and his state of mind had not improved. He waited full a 
minute as he surveyed the man of business. 

"I thought I mout be able to make some arrangements 
with you to git some money, but I reckon I was mistaken." 
The warehouse man came nearer. 

"This is Mr. Brown, I believe. I did not recognize you 
at once. You are not in often to see us." 

"No; my wife usually 'tends to the town bizness, while I 
run the church and farm. Got a fall from my donkey this 
morning," he said, noticing a quizzical, interrogating look 
upon the face before him, "and fell squar' on the hat." He 
made a pretense of smoothing it. The man of business had 
already lost interest. 

"How much money will you want, Mr. Brown?" 

"Well, about seven hundred dollars," said the elder, re 
placing his hat, and turning a furtive look upon the ware 
house man. The other was tapping with his pencil upon 
the little shelf lying across the rail. 

"I can get you five hundred." 

"But I oughter have seven." 

"Can't arrange for that amount. Wait till later in the 
season, and come again. Money is very tight now. How 
much cotton will you raise?" 

"Well, I count on a hundr'd bales. An' you can't git the 
sev'n hundr'd dollars?" 

"Like to oblige you, but can't right now; will fix it for 
you later on." 

"Well," said the elder, slowly, "fix up the papers for five, 
an' I'll make it go as far as possible." 

The papers were drawn. A note was made out for $552.50, 
for the interest was at one and a half per cent, for seven 
months, and a mortgage on ten mules belonging to the elder 
was drawn and signed. The elder then promised to send 
his cotton to the warehouse to be sold in the fall, and with, 
a curt "Anything else?" and a "Thankee, that's all," the 
two parted. 

Elder Brown now made an effort to recall the supplemental 


commissions shouted to him upon his departure, in 
tending to execute them first, and then take his written list 
item by item. His mental resolves had just reached this 
point when a new 'thought made itself known. Passersby 
were puzzled to see the old man suddenly snatch his head 
piece off and peer with an intent and awestruck air into its 
irregular caverns. Some of them were shocked when he 
suddenly and vigorously ejaculated: 

" Hannah-Maria- Jemimy! goldarn an' blue blazes!" 

He had suddenly remembered having placed his memo 
randa in that hat, and as he studied its empty depths his 
mind pictured the important scrap fluttering along the sandy 
scene of his early-morning tumble. It was this that caused 
him to graze an oath with less margin that he had allowed 
himself in twenty years. What would the old lady say? 

Alas! Elder Brown knew too well. What she would not 
say was what puzzled him. But as he stood bareheaded 
in the sunlight a sense of utter desolation came and dwelt 
with him. His eye rested upon sleeping Balaam anchored 
to a post in the street, and so as he recalled the treachery that 
lay at the base of all his affliction, gloom was added to the 

To turn back and search for the lost paper would have 
been worse than useless. Only one course was open to him, 
and at it went the leader of his people. He called at the 
grocery; he invaded the recesses of the dry-goods establish 
ments; he ransacked the hardware stores; and wherever 
he went he made life a burden for the clerks, overhauling 
show-cases and pulling down whole shelves of stock. Occa 
sionally an item of his memoranda would come to light, and 
thrusting his hand into his capacious pocket, where lay the 
proceeds of his check, he would pay for it upon the spot, 
and insist upon having it rolled up. To the suggestion of 
the slave whom he had in charge for the time being that 
the articles be laid aside until he had finished, he would not 

"Now you look here, sonny," he said, in the dry-goods 
store, "I'm conducting this revival, an' I don't need no help 
in my line. Just you tie them stockin's up an' lemme have 


'em. Then I know I've got 'em." As each purchase was 
promptly paid for, and change had to be secured, the clerk 
earned his salary for that day at least. 

So it was when, near the heat of the day, the good man 
arrived at the drugstore, the last and only unvisited division 
of trade, he made his appearance equipped with half a 
hundred packages, which nestled in his arms and bulged out 
about the sections of his clothing that boasted of pockets. 
As he deposited his deck-load upon the counter, great drops 
of perspiration rolled down his face and over his water 
logged collar to the floor. 

There was something exquisitely refreshing in the great 
glasses of foaming soda that a spruce young man was draw 
ing from a marble fountain, above which half a dozen polar 
bears in an ambitious print were disporting themselves. 
There came a break in the run of customers, and the spruce 
young man, having swept the foam from the marble, dex 
terously lifted a glass from the revolving rack which had 
rinsed it with a fierce little stream of water, and asked 
mechanically, as he caught the intense look of the perspiring 
elder, "What syrup, sir?" 

Now it had not occurred to the elder to drink soda, but 
the suggestion, coming as it did in his exhausted state, was 
overpowering. He drew near awkwardly, put on his glasses, 
and examined the list of syrups with great care. The young 
man, being for the moment at leisure, surveyed critically 
the gaunt figure, the faded bandanna, the antique claw 
hammer coat, and the battered stove-pipe hat, with a gradu 
ally relaxing countenance. He even called the prescription 
clerk's attention by a cough and a quick jerk of the thumb. 
The prescription clerk smiled freely, and continued his as 
saults upon a piece of blue mass. 

"I reckon," said the elder, resting his hands upon his 
knees and bending down to the list, "you may gimme sass- 
prilla an' a little strawberry. Sassprilla's good for the blood 
this time er year, an' strawberry's good any time." 

The spruce young man let the syrup stream into the glass 
as he smiled affably. Thinking, perhaps, to draw out the 
odd character, he ventured upon a jest himself, repeating a 


pun invented by the man who made the first soda fountain. 
With a sweep of his arm he cleared away the swarm of in 
sects as he remarked, "People who like a fly in theirs are 
easily accommodated." 

It was from sheer good-nature only that Elder Brown 
replied, with his usual broad, social smile, "Well, a fly now 
an' then don't hurt nobody." 

Now if there is anybody in the world who prides himself 
on knowing a thing or two, it is the spruce young man who 
presides over a soda fountain. This particular young gen 
tleman did not even deem a reply necessary. He vanished 
an instant, and when he returned a close observer might 
have seen that the mixture in the glass he bore had slightly 
changed color and increased in quantity. But the elder 
saw only the whizzing stream of water dart into its center, 
and the rosy foam rise and tremble on the glass's rim. The 
next instant he was holding his breath and sipping the cool 
ing drink. 

As Elder Brown paid his small score he was at peace with 
the world. I firmly believe that when he had finished his 
trading, and the little blue-stringed packages had been stored 
away, could the poor donkey have made his appearance at 
the door, and gazed with his meek, fawnlike eyes into his 
master's, he would have obtained full and free forgive* 

Elder Brown paused at the door as he was about to leave. 
A rosy-cheeked school-girl was just lifting a creamy mixture 
to her lips before the fountain. It was a pretty picture, and 
he turned back, resolved to indulge in one more glass of tha 
delightful beverage before beginning his long ride home 

"Fix it up again, sonny," he said, renewing his broad, 
confiding smile, as the spruce young man poised a glass in 
quiringly. The living automaton went through the same 
motions as before, and again Elder Brown quaffed the fatal 

What a singular power is habit! Up to this time Elder 
Brown had been entirely innocent of transgression, but with 
the old alcoholic fire in his veins, twenty years dropped from 


his shoulders, and a feeling came over him familiar to every 
man who has been "in his cups." As a matter of fact, the 
elder would have been a confirmed drunkard twenty years 
before had his wife been less strong-minded. She took the 
reins into her own hands when she found that his business 
and strong drink did not mix well, worked him into the 
church, sustained his resolutions by making it difficult and 
dangerous for him to get to his toddy. She became the busi 
ness head of the family, and he the spiritual. Only at rare 
intervals did he ever ''backslide" during the twenty years of 
the new era, and Mrs. Brown herself used to say that the 
"sugar in his'n turned to gall before the backslide ended." 
People who knew her never doubted it. 

But Elder Brown's sin during the remainder of the day 
contained an element of responsibility. As he moved ma 
jestically down toward where Balaam slept in the sunlight, 
he felt no fatigue. There was a glow upon his cheek-bones, 
and a faint tinge upon his prominent nose. He nodded 
familiarly to people as he met them, and saw not the look 
of amusement which succeeded astonishment upon the vari 
ous faces. When he reached the neighborhood of Balaam 
it suddenly occurred to him that he might have forgotten 
some one of his numerous commissions, and he paused to 
think. Then a brilliant idea rose in his mind. He would 
forestall blame and disarm anger with kindness he would 
purchase Hannah a bonnet. 

What woman's heart ever failed to soften at sight of a 
new bonnet? 

As I have stated, the elder was a man of action. He en 
tered a store near at hand. 

"Good-morning," said an affable gentleman with a He 
brew countenance, approaching. 

"Good-mornin', good-mornin'," said the elder, piling his 
bundles on the counter. "I hope you are well?" Elder 
Brown extended his hand fervidly. 

"Quite well, I thank you. What " 

"And the little wife?" said Elder Brown, affectionately 
retaining the Jew's hand. 

"Quite well, sir." 


"And the little ones quite well, I hope, too?" 

"Yes, sir; all well, thank you. Something I can do for 

The affable merchant was trying to recall his customer's 

"Not now, not now, thankee. If you please to let my 
bundles stay untell I come back- 

"Can't I show you something? Hat, coat " 

"Not now. Be back bimeby." 

Was it chance or fate that brought Elder Brown in front 
of a bar? The glasses shone bright upon the shelves as the 
swinging door flapped back to let out a coatless clerk, who 
passed him with a rush, chewing upon a farewell mouthful 
of brown bread and bologna. Elder Brown beheld for an 
instant the familiar scene within. The screws of his reso 
lution had been loosened. At sight of the glistening bar the 
whole moral structure of twenty years came tumbling down. 
Mechanically he entered the saloon, and laid a silver quarter 
upon the bar as he said: 

"A little whiskey an' sugar." The arms of the bar 
tender worked like a faker's in a side show as he set out 
the glass with its little quota of "short sweetening" and a 
cut-glass decanter, and sent a half-tumbler of water spin 
ning along from the upper end of the bar with a dime in 

"Whiskey is higher'n used to be," said Elder Brown; but 
the bartender was taking another order, and did not hear 
him. Elder Brown stirred away the sugar, and let a steady 
stream of red liquid flow into the glass. He swallowed the 
drink as unconcernedly as though his morning tod had never 
been suspended, and pocketed the change. "But it ain't any 
better than it was," he concluded, as he passed out. He did 
not even seem to realize that he had done anything extraor 

There was a millinery store up the street, and thither with 
uncertain step he wended his way, feeling a little more 
elate, and altogether sociable. A pretty, black-eyed girl, 
struggling to keep down her mirth, came forward and faced 
him behind the counter. Elder Brown lifted his faded hat 


with the politeness, if not the grace, of a Castilian, and made 
a sweeping bow. Again he was in his element. But he did 
not speak. A shower of odds and ends, small packages, 
thread, needles, and buttons, released from their prison, rat 
tled down about him. 

The girl laughed. She could not help it. And the elder, 
leaning his hand on the counter, laughed, too, until several 
other girls came half-way to the front. Then they, hiding 
behind counters and suspended cloaks, laughed and snickered 
until they reconvulsed the elder's vis-a-vis, who had been 
making desperate efforts to resume her demure appear 

"Let me help you, sir," she said, coming from behind the 
counter, upon seeing Elder Brown beginning to adjust his 
spectacles for a search. He waved her back majestically. 
"No, my dear, no; can't allow it. You mout sile them purty 
fingers. No, ma'am. No gen '1 'man '11 'low er lady to do 
such a thing." The elder was gently forcing the girl back to 
her place. "Leave it to me. I've picked up bigger things 
'n them. Picked myself up this mornin'. Balaam you 
ion't know Balaam; he's my donkey he tumbled me over 
lis head in the sand this momin'." And Elder Brown had 
X) resume an upright position until his paroxysm of laugh 
ter had passed. "You see this old hat?" extending it, half 
full of packages; "I fell clear inter it; jes' as clean inter it 
as them things thar fell out'n it." He laughed again, and 
50 did the girls. "But, my dear, I whaled half the hide off'n 
him for it." 

"Oh, sir! how could you? Indeed, sir. I think you did 
wrong. The poor brute did not know what he was doing, I 
dare say. and probably he has been a faithful friend." The 
girl cast her mischievous eyes towards her companions, who 
snickered again. The old man was not conscious of the 
sarcasm. He only saw reproach. His face straightened, and 
he regarded the girl soberly. 

"Mebbe you're right, my dear; mebbe I oughtn't." 

"I am sure of it,'" said the girl. "But now don't you want 
to buy a bonnet or a cloak to carry home to your wife?" 

"Well, you're whistlin' now, birdie; that's my intention; 


set 'em all out." Again the elder's face shone with delight. 
"An' I don't want no one-hoss bonnet neither." 

"Of course not. Now here is one; pink silk, with deli 
cate pale blue feathers. Just the thing for the season. We 
have nothing more elegant in stock." Elder Brown held it 
out, upside down, at arm's-length. 

"Well, now, that's suthin' like. Will it soot a sorter red 
headed 'ooman?" 

A perfectly sober man would have said the girl's corsets 
must have undergone a terrible strain, but the elder did not 
notice her dumb convulsion. She answered, heroically: 

"Perfectly, sir. It is an exquisite match." 

"I think you're whistlin' again. Nancy's head's red, red 
as a woodpeck's. Sorrel's only half-way to the color of hef 
top-knot, an' it do seem like red oughter to soot red. Nan 
cy's red an' the hat's red; like goes with like, an' birds of a 
feather flock together." The old man laughed until 1m 
cheeks were wet. 

The girl, beginning to feel a little uneasy, and seeing a 
customer entering, rapidly fixed up the bonnet, took fifteen 
dollars out of a twenty-dollar bill, and calmly asked the 
elder if he wanted anything else. He thrust his change some 
where into his clothes, and beat a retreat. It had occurred 
to him that he was nearly drunk. 

Elder Brown's step began to lose its buoyancy. He found 
himself utterly unable to walk straight. There was an un 
certain straddle in his gait that carried him from one side 
of the walk to the other, and caused people whom he met to 
cheerfully yield him plenty of room. 

Balaam saw him coming. Poor Balaam. He had made 
an early start that day, and for hours he stood in the sun 
awaiting relief. When he opened his sleepy eyes and raised 
his expressive ears to a position of attention, the old familiar 
coat and battered hat of the elder were before him. He 
lifted up his honest voice and cried aloud for joy. 

The effect was electrical for one instant. Elder Brown 
surveyed the beast with horror, but again in his understand* 
ing there rang out the trumpet words. 

"Drunk, drunk, drunk, drer-unc, -er-unc, -unc, -unc." 


He stooped instinctively for a missile with which to smite 
his accuser, but brought up suddenly with a jerk and a 
handful of sand. Straightening himself up with a majestic 
dignity, he extended his right hand impressively. 

"You're a goldarn liar, Balaam, and, blast your old but 
tons, you kin walk home by yourself, for I'm danged if you 
sh'll ride me er step." 

Surely Coriolanus never turned his back upon Rome with 
a grander dignity than sat upon the old man's form as he 
faced about and left the brute to survey with anxious eyes 
the new departure of his master. 

He saw the elder zigzag along the street, and beheld him 
about to turn a friendly corner. Once more he lifted up his 
mighty voice: 

"Drunk, drunk, drunk, drer-unc, drer-unc, -erunc, -unc, 

Once more the elder turned with lifted hand and shouted 

"You're a liar, Balaam, goldam you! You're er iffamous 
!iar." Then he passed from view. 


Mrs. Brown stood upon the steps anxiously awaiting the 
return of her liege lord. She knew he had with him a large 
sum of money, or should have, and she knew also that he 
was a man without business methods. She had long since 
repented of the decision which sent him to town. When the 
old battered hat and flour-covered coat loomed up in the 
gloaming and confronted her, she stared with terror. The 
next instant she had seized him. 

"For the Lord sakes, Elder Brown, what ails you? As 
I live, if the man ain't drunk! Elder Brown! Elder Brown! 
for the life of me can't I make you hear? You crazy old 
hypocrite! you desavin' old sinner! you black-hearted wretch! 
where have you ben?" 

The elder made an effort to wave her off. 

"Woman," he said, with grand dignity, "you forgit yus- 
sef; shu know ware I've ben 'swell's I do. Ben to town, 


wife, an' see yer wat I've brought the fines' hat, ole 
woman, I could git. Look 't the color. Like goes 'ith like; 
it's red an' you're red, an' it's a dead match. What yer 
mean? Hey! hole on! ole woman! you! Hannah! you." 
She literally shook him into silence. 

"You miserable wretch! you low-down drunken sot! what 
do you mean by coming home and insulting your wife?" 
Hannah ceased shaking him from pure exhaustion. 

"Where is it, I say? where is it?" 

By this time she was turning his pockets wrong side out* 
From one she got pills, from another change, from another 

"The Lord be praised, and this is better luck than I hoped! 
Oh, elder! elder! elder! what did you do it for? Why, 
man, where is Balaam?" 

Thought of the beast choked off the threatened hysterics. 

"Balaam? Balaam?" said the elder, groggily. "He's in 
town. The infernal ole fool 'suited me, an' I lef him to 
walk home." 

His wife surveyed him. Really at that moment she did 
think his mind was gone; but the leer upon the old man'? 
face enraged her beyond endurance. 

"You did, did you? Well, now, I reckon you'll laugh for 
some cause, you will. Back you go, sir straight back; an' 
don't you come home 'thout that donkey, or you'll rue it, 
sure as my name is Hannah Brown. Aleck! you 

A black boy darted round the corner, from behind which, 
with several others, he had beheld the brief but stirring 

"Put a saddle on er mule. The elder's gwine back to 
[town. And don't you be long about it neither." 

"Yessum." Aleck's ivories gleamed in the darkness as htf 

Elder Brown was soberer at that moment than he had 
been for hours. 

"Hannah, you don't mean it?" 

"Yes, sir, I do. Back you go to town as sure as my name 
is Hannah Brown." 


The elder was silent. He had never known his wife to 
relent on any occasion after she had affirmed her intention, 
supplemented with "as sure as my name is Hannah Brown." 
It was her way of swearing. No affidavit would have had 
half the claim upon her as that simple enunciation. 

So back to town went Elder Brown, not in the order of 
the early morn, but silently, moodily, despairingly, sur 
rounded by mental and actual gloom. 

The old man had turned a last appealing glance upon the 
angry woman, as he mounted with Aleck's assistance, and 
sat in the light that streamed from out the kitchen window. 
She met the glance without a waver. 

a She means it, as sure as my name is Elder Brown," he 
said, thickly. Then he rode on. 


To say that Elder Brown suffered on this long journey 
back to Macon would only mildly outline his experience. 
His early morning's fall had begun to make itself felt. He 
was sore and uncomfortable. Besides, his stomach was 
empty, and called for two meals it had missed for the first 
time in years. 

When, sore and weary, the elder entered the city, the 
electric lights shone above it like jewels in a crown. The 
city slept; that is, the better portion of it did. Here and 
there, however, the lower lights flashed out into the night. 
Moodily the elder pursued his journey, and as he rode, far 
off in the night there rose and quivered a plaintive cry. 
Elder Brown smiled wearily: it was Balaam's appeal, and 
he recognized it. The animal he rode also recognized it, 
and replied, until the silence of the city was destroyed. The 
odd damor and confusion drew from a saloon near by a 
group of noisy youngsters, who had been making a night of 
it. They surrounded Elder Brown as he began to transfer 
himself to the hungry beast to whose motion he was more 
accustomed, and in the "hail fellow well met" style of the 
day began to bandy jests upon his appearance. Now Elder 
Brown was not in a jesting humor. Positively he was in 


the worst humor possible. The result was that before many 
minutes passed the old man was swinging several of the 
crowd by their collars, and breaking the peace of the city. 
A policeman approached, and but for the good-humored 
party, upon whom the elder's pluck had made a favorable 
impression, would have run the old man into the barracks. 
The crowd, however, drew him laughingly into the saloon 
and to the bar. The reaction was too much for his half- 
rallied senses. He yielded again. The reviving liquor 
passed his lips. Gloom vanished. He became one of the 

The company into which Elder Brown had fallen was 
what is known as "first-class." To such nothing is so cap 
tivating as an adventure out of the common run of acci 
dents. The gaunt countryman, with his battered hat and 
claw-hammer coat, was a prize of an extraordinary nature. 
They drew him into a rear room, whose gilded frames and 
polished tables betrayed the character and purpose of the 
place, and plied him with wine until ten thousand lights 
danced about him. The fun increased. One youngster 
made a political speech from the top of the table; another 
impersonated Hamlet; and finally Elder Brown was lifted 
into a chair, and sang a camp-meeting song. This was ren 
dered by him with startling effect. He stood upright, with 
his hat jauntily knocked to one side, and his coat tails orna 
mented with a couple of show-bills, kindly pinned on by 
his admirers. In his left hand he waved the stub of a cigar, 
and on his back was an admirable representation of Ba 
laam's head, executed by some artist with billiard chalk. 

As the elder sang his favorite hymn, "I'm glad salvation's 
free," his stentorian voice awoke the echoes. Most of the 
company rolled upon the floor in convulsions of laughter. 

The exhibition came to a close by the chair overturning. 
Again Elder Brown fell into his beloved hat. He arose and 
shouted: "Whoa, Balaam!" Again he seized the nearest 
weapon, and sought satisfaction. The young gentleman 
with political sentiments was knocked under the table, and 
Hamlet only escaped injury by beating the infuriated elder 
into the street. 


What next? Well, I hardly know. How the elder found 
Balaam is a mystery yet: not that Balaam was hard to find, 
but that the old man was in no condition to find anything. 
Still he did, and climbing laboriously into the saddle, he held 
on staidly while the hungry beast struck out for home. 

Hannah Brown did not sleep that night. Sleep would not 
come. Hour after hour passed, and her wrath refused to be 
quelled. She tried every conceivable method, but time hung 
heavily. It was not quite peep of day, however, when she 
laid her well-worn family Bible aside. It had been her 
mother's, and amid all the anxieties and tribulations incident 
to the life of a woman who had free negroes and a miserable 
husband to manage, it had been her mainstay and comfort. 
She had frequently read it in anger, page after page, with 
out knowing what was contained in the lines. But eventu 
ally the words became intelligible and took meaning. She 
wrested consolation from it by mere force of will. 

And so on this occasion when she closed the book the fierce 
anger was gone. 

She was not a hard woman naturally. Fate had brought 
her conditions which covered up the woman heart within 
her, but though it lay deep, it was there still. As she sat 
with folded hands her eyes fell upon what? 

The pink bonnet with the blue plume! 

It may appear strange to those who do not understand 
such natures, but to me her next action was perfectly nat 
ural. She burst into a convulsive laugh; then, seizing the 
queer object, bent her face upon it and sobbed hysterically. 
When the storm was over, very tenderly she laid the gift 
aside, and bare-headed passed out into the night. 

For a half-hour she stood at the end of the lane, and tihen 
hungry Balaam and his master hove in sight. Reaching out 
her hand, she checked the beast. 

"William," said she, very gently, "where is the mule?" 

The elder had been asleep. He wcke and gazed upon 
her blankly. 


"What mule, Hannah?" 

"The mule you rode to town." 

For one full minute the elder studied her face. Then it 
burst from his lips: 

"Well, bless me! if I didn't bring Balaam and forgit the 

The woman laughed till her eyes ran water. 

"William," said she, "you're drunk." 

"Hannah," said he, meekly, "I know it. The truth is, 
Hannah, I " 

"Never mind, now, William," she said, gently. "You arf 
tired and hungry. Come into the house, husband." 

Leading Balaam, she disappeared down the lane; and 
when, a few minutes later, Hannah Brown and her husband 
entered through the light that streamed out of the open door, 
her arms were around him, and her face upturned to his. 



MR. PETERSON FLUKER, generally called Pink, for 
his fondness for as stylish dressing as he could af 
ford, was one of that sort of men who habitually 
seem busy and efficient when they are not. He had the 
bustling activity often noticeable in men of his size, and in 
one way and another had made up, as he believed, for being 
so much smaller than most of his adult acquaintance of the 
male sex. Prominent among his achievements on that line 
was getting married to a woman who, among other excellent 
gifts, had that of being twice as big as her husband. 

"Fool who?" on the day after his marriage he had asked, 
with a look at those who had often said that he was too 
little to have a wife. 

They had a little property to begin with, a couple of hun 
dreds of acres, and two or three negroes apiece. Yet, except 
in the natural increase of the latter, the accretions of worldly 
estate had been inconsiderable till now, when their oldest 
child, Marann, was some fifteen years old. These accretions 
had been saved and taken care of by Mrs. Fluker, who was 
as staid and silent as he was mobile and voluble. 

Mr. Fluker often said that it puzzled him how it was that 
he made smaller crops than most of his neighbors, when, if 
not always convincing, he could generally put every one of 

From The Century Magazine, June, 1886; copyright, 1886, by 
The Century Co. ; republished in the volume, Mr. Absalom Bil- 
lingslea, and Other Georgia Folk. (1888), by Richard Malcolm 
Johnston (Harper & Brothers). 



them to silence in discussions upon agricultural topics. This 
puzzle had led him to not unfrequent ruminations in his mind 
as to whether or not his vocation might lie in something 
higher than the mere tilling of the ground. These rumina 
tions had lately taken a definite direction, and it was after 
several conversations which he had held with his friend 
Matt Pike. 

Mr. Matt Pike was a bachelor of some thirty summers, a 
foretime clerk consecutively in each of the two stores of the 
village, but latterly a trader on a limited scale in horses, 
wagons, cows, and similar objects of commerce, and at all 
times a politician. His hopes of holding office had been 
continually disappointed until Mr. John Sanks became 
sheriff, and rewarded with a deputyship some important 
special service rendered by him in the late very close can 
vass. Now was a chance to rise, Mr. Pike thought. All he 
wanted, he had often said, was a start. Politics, I would 
remark, however, had been regarded by Mr. Pike as a means 
rather than an end. It is doubtful if he hoped to become 
governor of the state, at least before an advanced period ir 
his career. His main object now was to get money, and 
he believed that official position would promote him in the 
line of his ambition faster than was possible to any private 
station, by leading him into more extensive acquaintance 
with mankind, their needs, their desires, and their caprices. 
A deputy sheriff, provided that lawyers were not too indul 
gent in allowing acknowledgment of service of court pro 
cesses, in postponing levies and sales, and in settlement of 
litigated cases, might pick up three hundred dollars, a good 
sum for those times, a fact which Mr. Pike had known and 
pondered long. 

It happened just about then that the arrears of rent for 
the village hotel had so accumulated on Mr. Spouter, the 
last occupant, that the owner, an indulgent man, finally had 
said, what he had been expected for years and years to say, 
that he could not wait on Mr. Spouter forever and eter 
nally. It was at this very nick, so to speak, that Mr. Pike 
made to Mr. Fluker the suggestion to quit a business so far 
beneath his powers, sell out, or rent out, or tenant out, or 


do something else with his farm, march into town, plant 
himself upon the ruins of Jacob Spouter, and begin his up 
ward soar. 

Now Mr. Fluker had many and many a time acknowl 
edged that he had ambition; so one night He said to his 

"You see how it is here, Nervy. Farmin' somehow dont 
suit my talons. I need to be flung more 'mong people to 
fetch out what's in me. Then thar's Marann, which is git- 
tin' to be nigh on to a growd-up woman; an' the child need 
the s'iety which you 'bleeged to acknowledge is sca'ce about 
here, six mile from town. Your brer Sam can stay here an' 
raise butter, chickens, eggs, pigs, an' an' an' so forth. 
Matt Pike say he jes' know they's money in it, an' special 
with a housekeeper keerful an' equinomical like you." 

It is always curious the extent of influence that some 
men have upon wives who are their superiors. Mrs. Fluker, 
in spite of accidents, had ever set upon her husband a value 
that was not recognized outside of his family. In this re 
spect there seems a surprising compensation in human life. 
But this remark I make only in passing. Mrs. Fluker, ad 
mitting in her heart that farming was not her husband's 
forte, hoped, like a true wife, that it might be found in the 
new field to which he aspired. Besides, she did not forget 
that her brother Sam had said to her several times privately 
that if his brer Pink wouldn't have so many notions and 
would let him alone in his management, they would all do 
better. She reflected for a day or two, and then said: 

"Maybe it's best, Mr. Fluker. I'm willin' to try it for 
a year, anyhow. We can't lose much by that. As for Matt 
Pike, I hain't the confidence in him you has. Still, he bein' 
a boarder and deputy sheriff, he might accidentally do us 
some good. I'll try it for a year providin' you'll fetch me 
the money as it's paid in, for you know I know how to 
manage that better 'n you do, and you know I'll try to man 
age it and all the rest of the business for the best." 

To this provision Mr. Fluker gave consent, qualified by 
Hie claim that he was to retain a small margin for indis 
pensable personal exigencies. For he contended, perhaps 


with justice, that no man in the responsible position he 
was about to take ought to be expected to go about, or sit 
about, or even lounge about, without even a continental 
red in his pocket. 

The new house I say new because tongue could not 
tell the amount of scouring, scalding, and whitewashing that 
that excellent housekeeper had done before a single stick 
of her furniture went into it the new house, I repeat, 
opened with six eating boarders at ten dollars a month 
apiece, and two eating and sleeping at eleven, besides Mr. 
Pike, who made a special contract. Transient custom was 
hoped to hold its own, and that of the county people under 
the deputy's patronage and influence to be considerably 

In words and other encouragement Mr. Pike was pro 
nounced. He could commend honestly, and he did so cor 

"The thing to do, Pink, is to have your prices reg'lar, 
and make people pay up reg'lar. Ten dollars for eatin', 
jes' so; eleb'n for eatin' an' sleepin'; half a dollar for dinner, 
jes' so; quarter apiece for breakfast, supper, and bed, is 
what I call reasonable bo'd. As for me, I sca'cely know 
how to rig'late, because, you know, I'm a' officer now, an' 
in course I natchel has to be away sometimes an' on ex 
penses at 'tother places, an' it seem like some 'lowance ought 
by good rights to be made for that; don't you think so?" 

"Why, matter o' course, Matt; what you think? I ain't 
so powerful good at riggers. Nervy is. S'posen you speak 
to her 'bout it." 

"Oh, that's perfec' unuseless, Pink. I'm a' officer o' the 
law, Pink, an' the law consider women well, I may say 
the law, she deal 'ith men, not women, an' she expect her 
officers to understan' figgers, an' if I hadn't o' understood 
figgers Mr. Sanks wouldn't or darsnt' to 'p'int me his dep'ty. 
Me 'n' you can fix them terms. Now see here, reg'lar bo'd 
eatin' bo'd, I mean is ten dollars, an' sleepin' and singuil 
meals is 'cordin' to the figgers you've sot for 'em. Ain't 
that so? Jes' so. Now, Pink, you an' me'll keep a runnin' 
account, you a-chargin' for reg'lar bo'd, an' I a'lowin' to 


myself credics for my absentees, accordin' to transion cus 
tomers an' singuil mealers an' sleepers. Is that fa'r, er is 
it not fa'r?" 

Mr. Fluker turned his head, and after making or think 
ing he had made a calculation, answered: 

"That's that seem fa'r, Matt." 

"Cert'nly 'tis, Pink; I knowed you'd say so, an' you know 
I'd never wish to be nothin' but fa'r 'ith people I like, like I 
do you an' your wife. Let that be the understandin', then, 
betwix' us. An' Pink, let the understandin' be jes' betwix' 
us, for I've saw enough o' this world to find out that a man 
never makes nothin' by makin' a blowin' horn o' his busi 
ness. You make the t'others pay up spuntial, monthly. 
You 'n' me can settle whensomever it's convenant, say three 
months from to-day. In course I shall talk up for the 
house whensomever and wharsomever I go or stay. You 
know that. An' as for my bed," said Mr. Pike finally, 
"whensomever I ain't here by bed-time, you welcome to put 
any transion person in it, an' also an' likewise, when tran 
sion custom is pressin', and you cramped for beddin', I'm 
willin' to give it up for the time bein'; an' rather'n you 
should be cramped too bad, I'll take my chances somewhars 
else, even if I has to take a pallet at the head o' the sta'r- 

"Nervy," said Mr. Fluker to his wife afterwards, "Matt 
Pike's a sensibler an' a friendlier an' a 'commodatiner fel- 
ler'n I thought." 

Then, without giving details of the contract, he men 
tioned merely the willingness of their boarder to resign his 
bed on occasions of pressing emergency. 

"He's talked mighty fine to me and Marann," answered 
Mrs. Fluker. "We'll see how he holds out. One thing I 
do not like of his doin', an' that's the talkin' *bout Sim 
Marchman to Marann, an' makin' game o' his country ways, 
as he call 'em. Sech as that ain't right." 

It may be as well to explain just here that Simeon March 
man, the person just named by Mrs. Fluker, a stout, in 
dustrious young farmer, residing with his parents in the 
country near by where the Flukers had dwelt before removing 


to town, had been eying Marann for a year or two, 
and waiting upon her fast-ripening womanhood with inten 
tions that he believed to be hidden in his own breast, 
though he had taken less pains to conceal them from Marann 
than from the rest of his acquaintance. Not that he had 

ever told her of them in so many words, but Oh, I 

need not stop here hi the midst of this narration to ex 
plain how such intentions become known, or at least strongly 
suspected by girls, even those less bright than Marann 
Fluker. Simeon had not cordially indorsed the movement 
into town, though, of course, knowing it was none of his 
business, he had never so much as hinted opposition. I 
would not be surprised, also, if he reflected that there might 
be some selfishness in his hostility, or at least that it was 
heightened by apprehensions personal to himself. 

Considering the want of experience in the new tenants, 
matters went on remarkably well. Mrs. Fluker, accustomed 
to rise from her couch long before the lark, managed to the 
satisfaction of all, regular boarders, single-meal takers, and 
transient people. Marann went to the village school, her 
mother dressing her, though with prudent economy, a? 
neatly and almost as tastefully as any of her schoolmates; 
while, as to study, deportment, and general progress, there 
was not a girl in the whole school to beat her, I don't care 
who she was. 


During a not inconsiderable period Mr. Fluker indulged 
the honorable conviction that at last he had found the vein 
in which his best talents lay, and he was happy in fore 
sight of the prosperity and felicity which that discovery 
promised to himself and his family. His native activity 
found many more objects for its exertion than before. He 
rode out to the farm, not often, but sometimes, as a matter 
of duty, and was forced to acknowledge that Sam was man 
aging better than could have been expected in the absence 
of his own continuous guidance. In town he walked about 
the hotel, entertained the guests, carved at the meals, hovered 
about the stores, the doctors' offices, the wagon and black- 


smith shops, discussed mercantile, medical, mechanical 
questions with specialists in all these departments, throwing 
into them all more and more of politics as the intimacy be 
tween him and his patron and chief boarder increased. 

Now as to that patron and chief boarder. The need of 
extending his acquaintance seemed to press upon Mr. Pike 
with ever-increasing weight. He was here and there, all 
over the county; at the county-seat, at the county villages, 
at justices' courts, at executors' and administrators' sales, at 
quarterly and protracted religious meetings, at barbecues of 
every dimension, on hunting excursions and fishing frolics, 
at social parties in all neighborhoods. It got to be said 
of Mr. Pike that a freer acceptor of hospitable invitations, 
or a better appreciator of hospitable intentions, was not and 
needed not to be found possibly in the whole state. Nor 
was this admirable deportment confined to the county in 
which he held so high official position. He attended, among 
other occasions less public, the spring sessions of the 
supreme and county courts in the four adjoining counties: 
the guest of acquaintance old and new over there. When 
starting upon such travels, he would sometimes breakfast 
with his traveling companion in the village, and, if some 
what belated in the return, sup with him also. 

Yet, when at Flukers', no man could have been a more 
cheerful and otherwise satisfactory boarder than Mr. Matt 
Pike. He praised every dish set before him, bragged to 
their very faces of his host and hostess, and in spite of his 
absences was the oftenest to sit and chat with Marann when 
her mother would let her go into the parlor. Here and 
everywhere about the house, in the dining-room, in the 
passage, at the foot of the stairs, he would joke with Marann 
about her country beau, as he styled poor Sim Marchman, 
and he would talk as though he was rather ashamed of 
Sim, and wanted Marann to string her bow for higher 

Brer Sam did manage well, not only the fields, but the 
yard. Every Saturday of the world he sent in something 
or other to his sister. I don't know whether I ought to tell 
it or not, but for the sake of what is due to pure veracity I 


will. On as many as three different occasions Sim March- 
man, as if he had lost all self-respect, or had not a particle 
of tact, brought in himself, instead of sending by a negro, 
a bucket of butter and a coop of spring chickens as a free 
gift to Mrs. Fluker. I do think, on my soul, that Mr. Matt 
Pike was much amused by such degradation however, he 
must say that they were all first-rate. As for Marann, she 
was very sorry for Sim, and wished he had not brought 
these good things at all. 

Nobody knew how it came about; but when the Flukers 
had been in town somewhere between two and three months, 
Sim Marchman, who (to use his own words) had never 
bothered her a great deal with his visits, began to suspect 
that what few he made were received by Marann lately 
with less cordiality than before; and so one day, knowing 
no better, in his awkward, straightforward country man 
ners, he wanted to know the reason why. Then Marann 
grew distant, and asked Sim the following question: 

"You know where Mr. Pike's gone, Mr. Marchman?" 

Now the fact was, and she knew it, that Marann Fluker 
had never before, not since she was born, addressed that 
boy as Mister, 

The visitor's face reddened and reddened. 

"No," he faltered in answer; "no no ma'am, I should 
say. I I don't know where Mr. Pike's gone." 

Then he looked around for his hat, discovered it in time, 
took it into his hands, turned it around two or three times, 
then, bidding good-bye without shaking hands, took him 
self off. 

Mrs. Fluker liked all the Marchmans, and she was 
troubled somewhat when she heard of the quickness and 
manner of Sim's departure; for he had been fully expected 
by her to stay to dinner. 

"Say he didn't even shake hands, Marann? What for? 
What you do to him?" 

"Not one blessed thing, ma; only he wanted to know 
why I wasn't gladder to see him." Then Marann looked 

"Say them words, Marann?" 


"No, but he hinted 'em." 

"What did you say then?" 

"I just asked, a-meaning nothing in the wide world, ma 
I asked him if he knew where Mr. Pike had gone." 

"And that were answer enough to hurt his feelin's. What 
you want to know where Matt Pike's gone for, Marann?" 

"I didn't care about knowing, ma, but I didn't like the 
way Sim talked." 

"Look here, Marann. Look straight at me. You'll be 
mighty fur off your feet if you let Matt Pike put things in 
your head that hain't no business a-bein' there, and special 
if you find yourself a-wantin' to know where he's a-peram- 
bulatin' in his everlastin' meanderin's. Not a cent has he 
paid for his board, and which your pa say he have a' un- 
derstandin' with him about allowin' for his absentees, which 
is all right enough, but which it's now goin' on to three 
mont's, and what is comin' to us I need and I want. He 
ought, your pa ought to let me bargain with Matt Pike, 
because he know he don't understan' figgers like Matt Pike. 
He don't know exactly what the bargain were; for I've asked 
him, and he always begins with a multiplyin' of words and 
never answers me." 

On his next return from his travels Mr. Pike noticed a 
coldness in Mrs. Fluker's manner, and this enhanced his 
praise of the house. The last week of the third month 
came. Mr. Pike was often noticed, before and after meals, 
standing at the desk in the hotel office (called in those 
times the bar-room) engaged in making calculations. The 
day before the contract expired Mrs. Fluker, who had not 
indulged herself with a single holiday since they had been 
in town, left Marann in charge of the house, and rode forth, 
spending part of the day with Mrs. Marchman, Sim's mother. 
All were glad to see her, of course, and she returned smartly 
freshened by the visit. That night she had a talk with 
Marann, and oh, how Marann did cry! 

The very last day came. Like insurance policies, the con 
tract was to expire at a certain hour. Sim Marchman came 
just before dinner, to which he was sent for by Mrs. Flu 
ker, who had seen him as he rode into town. 


"Hello, Sim," said Mr. Pike as he took his seat opposite 
him. "You here? What's the news in the country? How's 
your health? How's crops?" 

"Jest mod'rate, Mr. Pike. Got little business with you 
after dinner, ef you can spare time." 

"All right. Got a little matter with Pink here first. 
'Twon't take long. See you arfter amejiant, Sim." 

Never had the deputy been more gracious and witty. He 
talked and talked, outtalking even Mr. Fluker; he was the 
only man in town who could do that. He winked at Marann 
as he put questions to Sim, some of the words employed in 
which Sim had never heard before. Yet Sim held up as 
well as he could, and after dinner followed Marann with 
some little dignity into the parlor. They had not been 
there more than ten minutes when Mrs. Fluker was heard 
to walk rapidly along the passage leading from the dining- 
room, to enter her own chamber for only a moment, then to 
come out and rush to the parlor door with the gig-whip m 
her hand. Such uncommon conduct in a woman like Mrs, 
Pink Fluker of course needs explanation. 

When all the other boarders had left the house, the deputy 
and Mr. Fluker having repaired to the bar-room, the former 

"Now, Pink, for our settlement, as you say your wife 
think we better have one. I'd 'a' been willin' to let accounts 
keep on a-runnin', knowin' what a straightforrards sort o' 
man you was. Your count, ef I ain't mistakened, is jes' 
thirty-three dollars, even money. Is that so, or is it 

"That's it, to a dollar, Matt. Three times eleben make 
thirty-three, don't it?" 

"It do, Pink, or eleben times three, jes' which you please. 
Now here's my count, on which you'll see, Pink, that not 
nary cent have I charged for infloonce. I has infloonced a 
consider'ble custom to this house, as you know, bo'din' and 
transion. But I done that out o' my respects of you an' 
Missis Fluker, an' your keepin' of a fa'r I'll say, as I've 
said freckwent, a very fa'r house. I let them infloonces go 
to friendship, ef you'll take it so. Will you, Pink Fluker?" 


"Cert'nly, Matt, an' I'm a thousand times obieeged to 
you, an' " 

"Say no more, Pink, on that p'int o' view. Ef I like a 
man, I know how to treat him. Now as to the p'ints o' 
absentees, my business as dep'ty sheriff has took me away 
from this inconsider'ble town freckwent, hain't it?" 

"It have, Matt, er somethin' else, more'n I were a ex- 
pectin', an' " 

"Jes' so. But a public officer, Pink, when jooty call 
on him to go, he got to go; in fack he got to goth, as the 
Scripture say, ain't that so?" 

"I s'pose so, Matt, by good rights, a a official speakin'." 

Mr. Fluker felt that he was becoming a little confused. 

"Jes' so. Now, Pink, I were to have credics for my ab- 
oentees 'cordin' to transion an' single-meal bo'ders an' sleep 
ers; ain't that so?" 

"I I somethin' o' that sort, Matt," he answered 

"Jes' so. Now look here," drawing from his pocket a 
paper. "Itom one. Twenty-eight dinners at half a dollar 
makes fourteen dollars, don't it? Jes' so. Twenty-five 
breakfasts at a quarter makes six an' a quarter, which 
make dinners an' breakfasts twenty an' a quarter. Foller 
me up, as I go up, Pink. Twenty-five suppers at a quarter 
makes six an' a quarter, an* which them added to the twenty 
an' a quarter makes them twenty-six an' a half. Foller, 
Pink, an' if you ketch me in any mistakes in the kyarin' an' 
addin', p'int it out. Twenty-two an' a half beds an' I say 
half, Pink, because you 'member one night when them 
A'gusty lawyers got here 'bout midnight on their way to 
co't, rather'n have you too bad cramped, I ris to make way 
for two of 'em; yit as I had one good nap, I didn't think I 
ought to put that down but for half. Them makes five 
dollars half an' seb'n pence, an' which kyar'd on to the 
t'other twenty-six an' a half, fetches the whole cabool to 
Jes' thirty- two dollars an' seb'n pence. But I made up my 
mind I'd fling out that seb'n pence, an' jes' call it a dollar 
even money, an' which here's the solid silver." 

In spite of the rapidity with which this enumeration of 


counter-charges was made, Mr. Fluker commenced perspir 
ing at the first item, and when the balance was announced 
his face was covered with huge drops. 

It was at this juncture that Mrs. Fluker, who, well know 
ing her husband's unfamiliarity with complicated accounts, 
had felt her duty to be listening near the bar-room door, 
left, and quickly afterwards appeared before Marann and 
Sim as I have represented. 

"You think Matt Pike ain't tryin' to settle with your 
pa with a dollar? I'm goin' to make him keep his dollar, 
an' I'm goin' to give him somethin' to go 'long with it." 

"The good Lord have mercy upon us! " exclaimed Marann, 
springing up and catching hold of her mother's skirts, as she 
began her advance towards the bar-room. "Oh, ma! for 
the Lord's sake! Sim, Sim, Sim, if you care anything 
for me in this wide world, don't let ma go into that 
room ! " 

"Missis Fluker," said Sim, rising instantly, "wait jest 
two minutes till I see Mr. Pike on some pressin' business; 
I won't keep you over two minutes a-waitin'." 

He took her, set her down in a chair trembling, looked 
at her a moment as she began to weep, then, going out 
and closing the door, strode rapidly to the bar-room. 

"Let me help you settle your board-bill, Mr. Pike, by 
payin' you a little one I owe you." 

Doubling his fist, he struck out with a blow that felled 
the deputy to the floor. Then catching him by his heels, 
he dragged him out of the house into the street. Lifting 
his foot above his face, he said: 

"You stir till I tell you, an' I'll stomp your nose down 
even with the balance of your mean face. 'Tain't exactly 
my business how you cheated Mr. Fluker, though, 'pon my 
soul, I never knowed a trifliner, lowdowner trick. But / 
owed you myself for your talkin' 'bout and your lyin' *bout 
me, and now I've paid you; an' ef you only knowed it, I've 
saved you from a gig-whippin'. Now you may git up." 

"Here's his dollar, Sim," said Mr. Fluker, throwing it 
out of the window. "Nervy say make him take it." 

The vanquished, not daring to refuse, pocketed the coin, 


and slunk away amid the jeers of a score of villagers who 
had been drawn to the scene. 

In all human probability the late omission of the shaking 
tf Sim's and Marann's hands was compensated at their 
parting that afternoon. I am more confident on this point 
Because at the end of the year those hands were joined in 
separably by the preacher. But this was when they had 
all gone back to their old home; for if Mr. Fluker did not 
become fully convinced that his mathematical education was 
not advanced quite enough for all the exigencies of hotel- 
keeping, his wife declared that she had had enough of it, 
and that she and Marann were going home. Mr. Fluker 
may be said, therefore, to have followed, rather than led, 
his family on the return. 

As for the deputy, finding that if he did not leave it 
voluntarily he would be drummed out of the village, he de 
parted, whither I do not remember if anybody ever knew. 



^T^HEY certainly are nice people," I assented to my 

wife's observation, using the colloquial phrase with a 

consciousness that it was anything but "nice" Eng 

lish, "and I'll bet that their three children are better brought 

up than most of - " 

"Two children," corrected my wife. 

"Three, he told me." 

"My dear, she said there were two" 

"He said three." 

"You've simply forgotten. I'm sure she told me they 
had only two a boy and a girl." 

"Well, I didn't enter into particulars." 

"No, dear, and you couldn't have understood him. Two 

"All right," I said; but I did not think it was all right. 
As a near-sighted man learns by enforced observation to 
recognize persons at a distance when the face is not visible 
to the normal eye, so the man with a bad memory learns, 
almost unconsciously, to listen carefully and report accu 
rately. My memory is bad; but I had not had time to 
forget that Mr. Brewster Brede had told me that afternoon 
that he had three children, at present left in the care of 
his mother-in-law, while he and Mrs. Brede took their sum 
mer vacation. 

"Two children," repeated my wife; "and they are staying 
with his aunt Jenny." 

From Puck, July 30, 1890. Republished in the volume, Short 
Sixes: Stories to Be Read While the Candle Burns (1891), by 
Henry Cuyler Bunner; copyright, 1890, by Alice Larned Bunner; 
reprinted by permission of the publishers, Charles Scribner'a 



"He told me with his mother-in-law," I put in. My 
wife looked at me with a serious expression. Men may not 
remember much of what they are told about children; but 
any man knows the difference between an aunt and a mother- 

"But don't you think they're nice people?" asked my 

"Oh, certainly," I replied. "Only they seem to be a 
little mixed up about their children." 

"That isn't a nice thing to say," returned my wife. I 

could not deny it. 


And yet, the next morning, when the Bredes came down 
and seated themselves opposite us at table, beaming and 
smiling in their natural, pleasant, well-bred fashion, I knew, 
to a social certainty, that they were "nice" people. He was 
a fine-looking fellow in his neat tennis-flannels, slim, grace 
ful, twenty-eight or thirty years old, with a Frenchy pointed 
beard. She was "nice" in all her pretty clothes, and she 
herself was pretty with that type of prettiness which out 
wears most other types the prettiness that lies in a rounded 
figure, a dusky skin, plump, rosy cheeks, white teeth and 
black eyes. She might have been twenty-five; you guessed 
that she was prettier than she was at twenty, and that she 
would be prettier still at forty. 

And nice people were all we wanted to make us happy 
in Mr. Jacobus's summer boarding-house on top of Orange 
Mountain. For a week we had come down to breakfast each 
morning, wondering why we wasted the precious days of 
idleness with the company gathered around the Jacobus 
board. What joy of human companionship was to be had 
out of Mrs. Tabb and Miss Hoogencamp, the two middle- 
aged gossips from Scranton, Pa. out of Mr. and Mrs. 
Biggie, an indurated head-bookkeeper and his prim and cen 
sorious wife out of old Major Halkit, a retired business 
man, who, having once sold a few shares on commission, 
wrote for circulars of every stock company that was started, 
and tried to induce every one to invest who would listen 
to him? We looked around at those dull faces, the truthful 


indices of mean and barren minds, and decided that we 
would leave that morning. Then we ate Mrs. Jacobus's 
biscuit, light as Aurora's cloudlets, drank her honest coffee, 
inhaled 'the perfume of the late azaleas with which she 
decked her table, and decided to postpone our departure 
one more day. And then we wandered out to take our 
morning glance at what we called "our view"; and it seemed 
to us as if Tabb and Hoogencamp and Halkit and the Big- 
gleses could not drive us away in a year. 

I was not surprised -when, after breakfast, my wife in 
vited the Bredes to walk with us to "our view." The 
Hoogencamp-Biggle-Tabb-Halkit contingent never stirred 
off Jacobus's veranda; but we 'both felt that the Bredes 
would not profane that sacred scene. We strolled slowly 
across the fields, passed through the little belt of woods 
and, as I heard Mrs. Brede's little cry of startled rapture, 
I motioned to Brede to look up. 

"By Jove!" he cried, "heavenly 1" 

We looked off from the brow of the mountain over fif 
teen miles of billowing green, to where, far across a far 
stretch of pale blue lay a dim purple line that we knew was 
Staten Island. Towns and villages lay before us and under 
us; there were ridges and hills, uplands and lowlands, 
woods and plains, all massed and mingled in that great 
silent sea of sunlit green. For silent it was to us, standing 
in the silence of a high place silent with a Sunday stillness 
that made us listen, without taking thought, for the sound 
of bells coming up from the spires that rose above the tree- 
tops the tree-tops that lay as far beneath us as the light 
clouds were above us that dropped great shadows upon our 
heads and faint specks of shade upon the broad sweep of 
land at the mountain's foot. 

"And so that is your view?" asked Mrs. Brede, after a 
moment; "you are very generous to make it ours, too." 

Then we lay down on the grass, and Brede began to talk, 
in a gentle voice, as if he felt the influence of the place. 
He had paddled a canoe, in his earlier days, he said, and 
he knew every river and -.reek in that vast stretch of land 
scape. He found his landmarks, and pointed out to us 


where the Passaic and the Hackensack flowed, invisible to 
as, hidden behind great ridges that in our sight were but 
combings of the green waves upon which we looked down. 
And yet, on the further side of those broad ridges and rises 
were scores of villages a little world of country life, lying 
unseen under our eyes. 

"A good deal like looking at humanity," he said; "there 
is such a thing as getting so far above our fellow men that 
we see only one side of them." 

Ah, how much better was this sort of talk than the chat 
ter and gossip of the Tabb and the Hoogencamp than the 
Major's dissertations upon his everlasting circulars! My 
wife and I exchanged glances. 

"Now, when I went up the Matterhorn " Mr. Brede 

"Why, dear," interrupted his wife, "I didn't know you 
ever went up the Matterhorn." 

"It it was five years ago," said Mr. Brede, hurriedly. 
"I I didn't tell you when I was on the other side, you 
know it was rather dangerous well, as I was saying it 
looked oh, it didn't look at all like this." 

A cloud floated overhead, throwing its great shadow over 
the field where we lay. The shadow passed over the moun 
tain's brow and reappeared far below, a rapidly decreasing 
blot, flying eastward over the golden green. My wife and 
I exchanged glances once more. 

Somehow, the shadow lingered over us all. As we went 
home, the Bredes went side by side along the narrow path, 
and my wife and I walked together. 

"Should you think" she asked me, "that a man would 
climb the Matterhorn the very first year he was married?" 

"I don't know, my dear," I answered, evasively; "this 
isn't the first year I have been married, not by a good many, 
md I wouldn't climb it for a farm." 

"You know what I mean," she said. 

I did. 


When we reached the boarding-house, Mr. Jacobus took 
me aside. 


"You know," he began his discourse, "my wife she usef 
to live in N' York!" 

I didn't know, but I said "Yes." 

"She says the numbers on the streets runs criss-cross-like. 
Thirty-four's on one side o' the street an' thirty-five on 
t'other. How's that?" 

"That is the invariable rule, I believe." 

"Then I say these here new folk that you V your 
wife seem so mighty taken up with d'ye know anything 
about 'em?" 

"I know nothing about the character of your boarders, 
Mr. Jacobus," I replied, conscious of some irritability. "If 
I choose to associate with any of them " 

"Jess so jess so!" broke in Jacobus. "I hain't nothin' 
to say ag'inst yer sosherbil'ty. But do ye know them?" 

"Why, certainly not," I replied. 

"Well that was all I wuz askin' ye. Ye see, when he 
come here to take the rooms you wasn't here then he 
told my wife that he lived at number thirty-four in his 
street. An' yistiddy she told her that they lived at number 
thirty-five. He said he lived in an apartment-house. Now 
there can't be no apartment-house on two sides of the same 
street, kin they?" 

"What street was it?" I inquired, wearily. 

"Hundred 'n' twenty-first street." 

"May be," I replied, still more wearily. "That's Har 
lem. Nobody knows what people will do in Harlem." 

I went up to my wife's room. 

"Don't you think it's queer?" she asked me. 

"I think I'll have a talk with that young man to-night," 
I said, "and see if he can give some account of himself." 

"But, my dear," my wife said, gravely, "she doesn't 
know whether they've had the measles or not." 

"Why, Great Scott!" I exclaimed, "they must have had 
them when they were children." 

"Please don't be stupid," said my wife. "I meant their 

After dinner that night or rather, after supper, for we 
had dinner in the middle of the day at Jacobus's I walked 


down the long verandah to ask Brede, who was placidly 
smoking at the other end, to accompany me on a twilight 
stroll. Half way down I met Major Halkit. 

"That friend of yours," he said, indicating the uncon 
scious figure at the further end of the house, " seems to be 
a queer sort of a Dick. He told me that he was out of 
business, and just looking round for a chance to invest his 
capital. And I've been telling him what an everlasting big 
show he had to take stock in the Capitoline Trust Com 
pany starts next month four million capital I told you 
all about it. 'Oh, well/ he says, 'let's wait and think about 
it.' 'Wait!' says I, 'the Capitoline Trust Company won't 
wait for you, my boy. This is letting you in on the ground 
floor,' says I, 'and it's now or never.' 'Oh, let it wait,' says 
he. I don't know what's in-to the man." 

"I don't know how well he knows his own business, 
Major," I said as I started again for Brede's end of the 
veranda. But I was troubled none tihe less. The Major 
could not have influenced 'the sale of one share of stock hi 
the Capitoline Company. But that stock was a great in 
vestment; a rare chance for a purchaser with a few thou 
sand dollars. Perhaps it was no more remarkable that 
Brede should not invest than that I should not and yet, 
it seemed to add one circumstance more to the other sus 
picious circumstances. 


When I went upstairs that evening, I found my wife 
putting her hair to bed I don't know how I can better 
describe an operation familiar to every married man. I 
waited until the last tress was coiled up, and then I spoke: 

"I've talked with Brede," I said, "and I didn't have to 
catechize him. He seemed to feel that some sort of ex 
planation was looked for, and he was very outspoken. You 
were right about the children that is, I must have mis 
understood him. There are only two. But the Matterhorn 
episode was simple enough. He didn't realize how dangerous 
it was until he had got so far into it that he couldn't back 
out; and he didn't tell her, because he'd left her here, you 
see, and under the circumstances " 


"Left her here!" cried my wife. "I've been sitting with 
her the whole afternoon, sewing, and she told me that he 
left her at Geneva, and came back and took her to Basle, 
and the baby was born there now I'm sure, dear, because 
I asked her." 

"Perhaps I was mistaken when I thought he said she 
was on this side of the water," I suggested, with bitter, 
biting irony. 

"You poor dear, did I abuse you?" said my wife. "But, 
do you know, Mrs. Tabb said that she didn't know how 
many lumps of sugar he took in his coffee. Now that 
seems queer, doesn't it?" 

It did. It was a small thing. But it looked queer. 
Very queer. 


The next morning, it was clear that war was declared 
against the Bredes. They came down to breakfast some 
what late, and, as soon as they arrived, the Biggleses 
swooped up the last fragments that remained on their 
plates, and made a stately march out of the dining-room. 
Then Miss Hoogencamp arose and departed, leaving a whole 
fish-ball on her plate. Even as Atalanta might have dropped 
an apple behind her to tempt her pursuer to check his speed, 
so Miss Hoogencamp left that fish-ball behind her, and be 
tween her maiden self and contamination. 

We had finished our breakfast, my wife and I, before 
the Bredes appeared. We talked it over, and agreed that 
we were glad that we had not been obliged to take sides 
upon such insufficient testimony. 

After breakfast, it was the custom of the male half of 
the Jacobus household to go around the corner of the build 
ing and smoke their pipes and cigars where they would not 
annoy the ladies. We sat under a trellis covered with a 
grapevine that had borne no grapes in the memory of man. 
This vine, however, bore leaves, and these, on that pleas 
ant summer morning, shielded from us two persons who 
were in earnest conversation in the straggling, half-dead 
flower-garden at the side of the house. 

"I don't want," we heard Mr. Jacobus say, "to enter in 


Ho man's pry-vaey; but I do want to know who it may be, 
like, that I hev in my house. Now what I ask of you, and 
I don't want you to take it as in no ways personal, is hev 
you your merridge-license with you?" 

"No," we heard the voice of Mr. Brede reply. "Have 
you yours?" 

I think it was a chance shot; but it told all the same. 
The Major (he was a widower) and Mr. Biggie and I 
looked at each other; and Mr. Jacobus, on the other side of 
the grape-trellis, looked at I don't know what and was 
as silent as we were. 

Where is your marriage-license, married reader? Do you 
know? Four men, not including Mr. Brede, stood or sat on 
one side or the other of that grape-trellis, and not one of 
them knew where his marriage-license was. Each of us had 
bad one the Major had had three. But where were they? 
Where is yours? Tucked in your best-man's pocket; de 
posited in his desk or washed to a pulp in his white waist 
coat (if white waistcoats be the fashion of the hour), washed 
out of existence can you tell where it is? Can you unless 
you are one of those people who frame that interesting docu 
ment and hang it upon their drawing-room walls? 

Mr. B rede's voice arose, after an awful stillness of what 
seemed like five minutes, and was, probably, thirty seconds: 

"Mr. Jacobus, will you make out your bill at once, and 
let me pay it? I shall leave by the six o'clock train. And 
will you also send the wagon for my trunks?" 

"I hain't said I wanted to hev ye leave " began Mr. 

Jacobus; but Brede cut him short. 

"Bring me your bill." 

"But," remonstrated Jacobus, "ef ye ain't " 

"Bring me your bill!" said Mr. Brede. 


My wife and I went out for our morning's walk. But it 
seemed to us, when we looked at "our view," as if we could 
only see those invisible villages of which Brede had told us 
that other side of the ridges and rises of which we catch 
no glimpse from lofty hills or from the heights of human 
self-esteem. We meant to stay out until the Bredes had 


taken their departure; but we returned just in time to see 
Pete, the Jacobus darkey, the blacker of boots, the brusher 
of coats, the general handy-man of the house, loading the 
Brede trunks on the Jacobus wagon. 

And, as we stepped upon the verandah, down came Mrs. 
Brede, leaning on Mr. Brede's arm, as though she were 
ill; and it was clear that she had been crymg. There were 
heavy rings about her pretty black eyes. 

My wife took a step toward her. 

"Look at that dress, dear," she whispered; "she never 
thought anything like this was going to happen when she 
put that on." 

It was a pretty, delicate, dainty dress, a graceful, narrow- 
striped affair. Her hat was trimmed with a narrow-striped 
silk of the same colors maroon and white and in her 
hand she held a parasol that matched her dress. 

"She's had a new dress on twice a day," said my wife; 
"but that's the prettiest yet. Oh, somehow I'm awfully 
sorry they're going!" 

But going they were. They moved toward the steps. 
Mrs. Brede looked toward my wife, and my wife moved 
toward Mrs. Brede. But the ostracized woman, as though 
she felt the deep humiliation of her position, turned sharply 
away, and opened her parasol to shield her eyes from the 
sun. A shower of rice a half-pound shower of rice fell 
down over her pretty hat and her pretty dress, and fell in a 
spattering circle on the floor, outlining her skirts and there 
it lay in a broad, uneven band, bright in the morning sun. 

Mrs. Brede was in my wife's arms, sobbing as if her 
young heart would break. 

"Oh, you poor, dear, silly children!" my wife cried, as 
Mrs. Brede sobbed on her shoulder, "why didn't you tell us?" 

"W-W-W-We didn't want to be t-t-taken for a b-b-b-b- 
bridal couple," sobbed Mrs. Brede; "and we d-d-didn't 
dream what awful lies we'd have to tell, and all the aw-aw- 

ful mixed-up-ness of it. Oh, dear, dear, dear!" 

* * * ' * * * 

"Pete!" commanded Mr. Jacobus, "put back them trunks. 
These folks stays here's long's they wants ter. Mr. 


Brede " he held out a large, hard hand "I'd orter've 

known better," he said. And my last doubt of Mr. Brede 
vanished as he shook that grimy hand in manly fashion. 

The two women were walking off toward "our view," 
each with an arm about the other's waist touched by a 
sudden sisterhood of sympathy. 

"Gentlemen," said Mr. Brede, addressing Jacobus, Big 
gie, the Major and me, "there is a hostelry down the 
street where they sell honest New Jersey beer. I recognize 
the obligations of the situation." 

We five men filed down the street. The two women went 
toward the pleasant slope where the sunlight gilded the fore 
head of the great hill. On Mr. Jacobus's veranda lay a 
spattered circle of shining grains of rice. Two of Mr. 
Jacobus's pigeons flew down and picked up the shining 
grains, making grateful noises far down in their throats, 



" y TELL you, William," said Thomas Buller to his friend 
Mr. Podington, "I am truly sorry about it, but I can- 
not arrange for it this year. Now, as to my invitation 
that is very different." 

"Of course it is different," was the reply, "but I am 
obliged to say, as I said before, that I really cannot ac 
cept it." 

Remarks similar to these had been made by Thomas Bul 
ler and William Podington at least once a year for some 
five years. They were old friends; they had been school 
boys together and had been associated in business since 
they were young men. They had now reached a vigorous 
middle age; they were each married, and each had a house 
in the country in which he resided for a part of the year. 
They were warmly attached to each other, and each was 
the best friend which the other had in this world. But dur 
ing all these years neither of them had visited the other in 
his country home. 

The reason for this avoidance of each other at their re 
spective rural residences may be briefly stated. Mr. Bul- 
ler's country house was situated by the sea, and he was 
very fond of the water. He had a good cat-boat, which 

From Scribner's Magazine, August, 1897. Republished in 
Afield and Afloat, by Frank Richard Stockton ; copyright, 1900, 
by Charles Scribner's Sons. Reprinted by permission of th 


he sailed himself with much judgment and skill, and it was 
his greatest pleasure to take his friends and visitors upon 
Kttle excursions on the bay. But Mr. Podington was des 
perately afraid of the water, and he was particularly afraid 
of any craft sailed by an amateur. If his friend Buller 
would have employed a professional mariner, of years and 
experience, to steer and manage his boat, Podington might 
have been willing to take an occasional sail; but as Buller 
always insisted upon sailing his own boat, and took it ill 
if any of his visitors doubted his ability to do so properly, 
Podington did not wish to wound the self-love of his friend, 
and he did not wish to be drowned. Consequently he could 
not bring himself to consent to go to Buller's house by the 

To receive his good friend Buller at his own house in the 
beautiful upland region in which he lived would have been 
a great joy to Mr. Podington; but Buller could not be in 
duced to visit him. Podington was very fond of horses 
and always drove himself, while Buller was more afraid of 
horses than he was of elephants or lions. To one or more 
horses driven by a coachman of years and experience he 
did not always object, but to a horse driven by Poddngton, 
who had much experience and knowledge regarding mercan 
tile affairs, but was merely an amateur horseman, he most 
decidedly and strongly objected. He did not wish to hurt 
his friend's feelings by refusing to go out to drive with him, 
but he would not rack his own nervous system by accom 
panying him. Therefore it was that he had not yet visited 
the beautiful upland country residence of Mr. Podington. 

At last this state of things grew awkward. Mrs. Buller 
and Mrs. Podington, often with their families, visited each 
other at their country houses, but the fact that on these 
occasions they were never accompanied by their husbands 
caused more and more gossip among their neighbors both in 
the upland country and by the sea. 

One day in spring as the two sat in their city office, 
where Mr. Podington had just repeated his annual invita 
tion, his friend replied to him thus: 

"William, if I come to see you this summer, will you visit 


me? The thing is beginning to look a little ridiculous, and 
people are talking about it." 

Mr. Podington put his hand to his brow and for a fevf 
moments closed his eyes. In his mind he saw a cat-boat 
upon its side, the sails spread out over the water, and two 
men, almost entirely immersed in the waves, making efforts 
to reach the side of the boat. One of these was getting 
on very well that was Buller. The other seemed about 
to sink, his arms were uselessly waving in the air that was 
himself. But he opened his eyes and looked bravely out 
of the window; it was time to conquer all this; it was indeed 
growing ridiculous. Buller had been sailing many years 
and had never been upset. 

"Yes," said he; "I will do it; I am ready any time you 

Mr. Buller rose and stretched out his hand. 

"Good!" said he; "it is a compact!" 

Buller was the first to make the promised country visit. 
He had not mentioned the subject of horses to his friend, 
but he knew through Mrs. Buller that Podington still con 
tinued to be his own driver. She had informed him, how 
ever, that at present he was accustomed to drive a big black 
horse which, in her opinion, was as gentle and reliable as 
these animals ever became, and she could not imagine how 
anybody could be afraid of him. So when, the next morn 
ing after his arrival, Mr. Buller was asked by his host if 
he would like to take a drive, he suppressed a certain rising 
emotion and said that it would please him very much. 

When the good black horse had jogged along a pleasant 
road for half an hour Mr. Buller began to feel that, per- 
ihaps, for all these years he had been laboring under a mis 
conception. It seemed to be possible that there were some 
horses to which surrounding circumstances in the shape of 
sights and sounds were so irrelevant that they were to a cer 
tain degree entirely safe, even when guided and controlled 
by an amateur hand. As they passed some meadow-land, 
somebody behind a hedge fired a gun; Mr. Buller was 
frightened, but the horse was not. 

"William," said Buller, looking cheerfully around him, 


H I had no idea that you lived in such a pretty country. In 
fact, I might almost call it beautiful. You have not any 
wide stretch of water, such as I like so much, but here 
is a pretty river, those rolling hills are very charming, and, 
beyond, you have the blue of the mountains." 

"It is lovely," said his friend; "I never get tired of driv 
ing through this country. Of course the seaside is very 
fine, but here we have such a variety of scenery." 

Mr. Buller could not help thinking that sometimes the 
seaside was a little monotonous, and that he had lost a 
great deal of pleasure by not varying his summers by going 
up to spend a week or two with Podington. 

"William," said he, "how long have you had this horse?" 

"About two years," said Mr. Podington; "before I got 
him, I used to drive a pair." 

"Heavens!" thought Buller, "how lucky I was not to come 
two years ago!" And his regrets for not sooner visiting 
his friend greatly decreased. 

Now they came to a place where the stream, by which 
the road ran, had been dammed for a mill and had widened 
into a beautiful pond. 

"There now!" cried Mr. Buller. "That's what I like. 
William, you seem to have everything! This is really a 
very pretty sheet of water, and the reflections of the trees 
over there make a charming picture; you can't get that at 
the seaside, you know." 

Mr. Podington was delighted; his face glowed; he was 
rejoiced at the pleasure of his friend. "I tell you, Thomas," 
said he, "that " 

"William!" exclaimed Buller, with a sudden squirm in 
his seat, "what is that I hear? Is that a train?" 

"Yes," said Mr. Podington, "that is the ten-forty, up." 

"Does it come near here?" asked Mr. Buller, nervously. 
"Does it go over that bridge?" 

"Yes," said Podington, "but it can't hurt us, for our 
road goes under the bridge; we are perfectly safe; there is 
no risk of accident." 

"But your horse! Your horse!" exclaimed Buller, as the 
train came nearer and nearer. "What will he do?" 


"Do?" said Podington; "he'll do what he is doing now; 
he doesn't mind trains." 

"But look here, William," exclaimed Buller, "it will get 
there just as we do; no horse could stand a roaring up in 
the air like that!" 

Podington laughed. "He would not mind it in the least," 
said he. 

"Come, come now," cried Buller. "Really, I can't stand 
this! Just stop a minute, William, and let me get out. It 
sets all my nerves quivering." 

Mr. Podington smiled with a superior smile. "Oh, yoti 
needn't get out," said he; "there's not the least danger in 
the world. But I don't want to make you nervous, and 
I will turn around and drive the other way." 

"But you can't!" screamed Buller. "This road is not 
wide enough, and that train is nearly here. Please stop!" 

The imputation that the road was not wide enough for 
him to turn was too much for Mr. Podington to bear. He 
was very proud of his ability to turn a vehicle in a narrow 

"Turn!" said he; "that's the easiest thing in the world. 
See; a little to the right, then a back, then a sweep to the 
left and we will be going the other way." And instantly 
he began the maneuver in which he was such an adept. 

"Oh, Thomas!" cried Buller, half rising in his seat, "that 
train is almost here!" 

"And we are almost " Mr. Poddington was about to 

say "turned around," but he stopped. Mr. Buller's ex 
clamations had made him a little nervous, and, in his anxiety 
to turn quickly, he had pulled upon his horse's bit with 
more energy than was actually necessary, and his nervous 
ness being communicated to the horse, that animal backed 
with such extraordinary vigor that the hind wheels of the 
wagon went over a bit of grass by the road and into the 
water. The sudden jolt gave a new impetus to Mr. Buller's 

"You'll upset!" he cried, and not thinking of what he 
was about, he laid hold of his friend's arm. The horse, 
startled by this sudden jerk upon his bit, which, combined 


with the thundering of the train, which was now on the 
bridge, made him think that something extraordinary was 
about to happen, gave a sudden and forcible start back 
ward, so that not only the hind wheels of the light v/agon, 
but the fore wheels and his own hind legs went into the 
water. As the bank at this spot sloped steeply, the wagon 
continued to go backward, despite the efforts of the agitated 
horse to find a footing on the crumbling edge of the bank. 

"Whoa!" cried Mr. Buller. 

"Get up!" exclaimed Mr. Podington, applying his whip 
upon the plunging beast. 

But exclamations and castigations had no effect upon the 
horse. The original bed of the stream ran close to the 
road, and the bank was so steep and the earth so soft that 
it was impossible for the horse to advance or even maintain 
his footing. Back, back he went, until the whole equipage 
was in the water and the wagon was afloat. 

This vehicle was a road wagon, without a top, and the 
joints of its box-body were tight enough to prevent the 
water from immediately entering it; so, somewhat deeply 
sunken, it rested upon the water. There was a current in 
this part of the pond and it turned the wagon downstream. 
The horse was now entirely immersed in the water, with 
the exception of his head and the upper part of his neck, 
and, unable to reach the bottom with his feet, he made 
vigorous efforts to swim. 

Mr. Podington, the reins and whip in his hands, sat hor 
rified and pale; the accident was so sudden, he was so 
startled and so frightened that, for a moment, he could not 
speak a word. Mr. Buller, on the other hand, was now 
lively and alert. The wagon had no sooner floated away 
from the shore than he felt himself at home. He was upon 
his favorite element; water had no fears for him. He saw 
that his friend was nearly frightened out of his wits, and 
that, figuratively speaking, he must step to the helm and 
take charge of the vessel. He stood up and gazed about 

"Put her across stream!" he shouted; "she can't make 
headway against this current. Head her to that clump of 


trees on the other side; the bank is lower there, and we 
can beach her. Move a little the other way, we must trim 
boat. Now then, pull on your starboard rein." 

Podington obeyed, and the horse slightly changed his 

"You see," said Buller, "it won't do to sail straight across, 
because the current would carry us down and land us be 
low that spot." 

Mr. Podington said not a word; he expected every mo 
ment to see the horse sink into a watery grave. 

"It isn't so bad after all, is it, Podington? If we had a 
rudder and a bit of a sail it would be a great help to the 
horse. This wagon is not" a bad boat." 

The despairing Podington looked at his feet. "It's com 
ing in," he said in a husky voice. "Thomas, the water is 
over my shoes!" 

"That is so," said Buller. "I am so used to water I didn't 
notice it. She leaks. Do you carry anything to bail her 
out with?" 

"Bail!" cried Podington, now finding his voice. "Oh, 
Thomas, we are sinking!" 

"That's so," said Buller; "she leaks like a sieve." 

The weight of the running-gear and of the two men was 
entirely too much for the buoyancy of the wagon body. 
The water rapidly rose toward the top of its sides. 

"We are going to drown!" cried Podington, suddenly 

"Lick him! Lick him!" exclaimed Buller. "Make him 
swim faster!" 

"There's nothing to lick," cried Podington, vainly lashing 
at the water, for he could not reach the horse's head. The 
poor man was dreadfully frightened; he had never even 
imagined it possible that he should be drowned in his own 

"Whoop!" cried Buller, as the water rose over the 
sides. "Steady yourself, old boy, or you'll go over 
board!" And the next moment the wagon body sunk out 
of sight. 

But it did not go down very far. The deepest part of 


the channel of the stream had been passed, and with a 
bump the wheels struck the bottom. 

"Heavens!" exclaimed Buller, "we are aground." 

"Aground!" exclaimed Podington. "Heaven be praised!" 

As the two men stood up in the submerged wagon the 
water was above their knees, and when Podington looked 
out over the surface of the pond, now so near his face, it 
seemed like a sheet of water he had never seen before. It 
was something horrible, threatening to rise and envelop him. 
He trembled so that he could scarcely keep his footing. 

"William," said his companion, "you must sit down; if 
you don't, you'll tumble overboard and be drowned. There 
is nothing for you to hold to." 

"Sit down," said Podington, gazing blankly at the water 
around him, "I can't do that!" 

At this moment the horse made a slight movement. Hav 
ing touched bottom after his efforts in swimming across the 
main bed of the stream, with a floating wagon in tow, he 
had stood for a few moments, his head and neck well above 
water, and his back barely visible beneath the surface. 
Having recovered his breath, he now thought it was time 
to move on. 

At the first step of the horse Mr. Podington began to 
totter. Instinctively he clutched Buller. 

"Sit down!" cried the latter, "or you'll have us both 
overboard." There was no help for it; down sat Mr. Pod 
ington; and, as with a great splash he came heavily upon 
the seat, the water rose to his waist. 

"Ough!" said he. "Thomas, shout for help." 

"No use doing that," replied Buller, still standing on his 
nautical legs; "I don't see anybody, and I don't see any 
boat. We'll get out all right. Just you stick tight to the 

"The what?" feebly asked the other. 

"Oh, the seat, I mean. We can get to the shore all right 
if you steer the horse straight. Head him more across the 

"I can't head him," cried Podington, "I have dropped 
the reins!" 


"Good gracious!" cried Mr. Buller, "that's bad. Can't 
you steer him by shouting 'Gee' and 'Haw'?" 

"No," said Podington, "he isn't an ox; but perhaps I 
can stop him." And with as much voice as he could sum 
mon, he called out: "Whoa!" and the horse stopped. 

"If you can't steer him any other way," said Buller, 
"we must get the reins. Lend me your whip." 

"I have dropped that too," said Podington; "there it 

"Oh, dear," said Buller, "I guess I'll have to dive for 
them; if he were to run away, we should be in an awful 

"Don't get out! Don't get out!" exclaimed Podington, 
"You can reach over the dashboard." 

"As that's under water," said Buller, "it will be the same 
thing as diving; but it's got to be done, and I'll try it. 
Don't you move now; I am more used to water than you 

Mr. Buller took off his hat and asked his friend to hold it. 
He thought of his watch and other contents of his pockets, 
but there was no place to put them, so he gave them no 
more consideration. Then bravely getting on his knees in 
the water, he leaned over the dashboard, almost disappear 
ing from sight. With his disengaged hand Mr. Podington 
grasped the submerged coat-tails of his friend. 

In a few seconds the upper part of Mr. Buller rose from 
the water. He was dripping and puffing, and Mr. Poding 
ton could not but think what a difference it made in the 
appearance of his friend to have his hair plastered close to 
his head. 

"I got hold of one of them," said the sputtering Buller, 
"but it was fast to something and I couldn't get it loose." 

"Was it thick and wide?" asked Podington. 

"Yes," was the answer; "it did seem so." 

"Oh, that was a trace," said Podington; "I don't want 
that; the reins are thinner and lighter." 

"Now I remember they are," said Buller. "I'll go down 

Again Mr. Buller leaned over the dashboard, and this 


time he remained down longer, and when he came up he 
puffed and sputtered more than before. 

"Is this it?" said he, holding up a strip of wet leather. 

"Yes," said Podington, "you've got the reins." 

"Well, take them, and steer. I would have found them 
sooner if his tail had not got into my eyes. That long tail's 
floating down there and spreading itself out like a fan; it 
tangled itself all around my head. It would have been 
much easier if he had been a bob-tailed horse." 

"Now then," said Podington, "take your hat, Thomas, 
and I'll try to drive." 

Mr. Buller put on his hat, which was the only dry thing 
about him, and the nervous Podington started the horse so 
suddenly that even the sea-legs of Buller were surprised, 
and he came very near going backward into the water; but 
recovering himself, he sat down. 

"I don't wonder you did net like to do this, William," 
said he. "Wet as I am, it's ghastly!" 

Encouraged by his master's voice, and by the feeling of the 
familiar hand upon his bit, the horse moved bravely on. 

But the bottom was very rough and uneven. Sometimes 
the wheels struck a large stone, terrifying Mr. Buller, who 
thought they were going to upset; and sometimes they sank 
into soft mud, horrifying Mr. Podington, who thought they 
were going to drown. 

Thus proceeding, they presented a strange sight. At 
first Mr. Podington held his hands above the water as he 
drove, but he soon found this awkward, and dropped them 
to their usual position, so that nothing was visible above the 
water but the head and neck of a horse and the heads and 
shoulders of two men. 

Now the submarine equipage came to a low place in the 
bottom, and even Mr. Buller shuddered as the water rose 
to his chin. Podington gave a howl of horror, and the 
horse, with high, uplifted head, was obliged to swim. At 
this moment a boy with a gun came strolling along the 
road, and hearing Mr. Podington's cry, he cast his eyes over 
the water. Instinctively he raised his weapon to his shoul 
der, and then, in an instant, perceiving that the objects he 


beheld were not aquatic birds, he dropped his gun and ran 
yelling down the road toward the mill. 

But the hollow in the bottom was a narrow one, and 
when it was passed the depth of the water gradually de 
creased. The back of the horse came into view, the dash 
board became visible, and the bodies and the spirits of the 
two men rapidly rose. Now there was vigorous splashing 
and tugging, and then a jet black horse, shining as if he 
had been newly varnished, pulled a dripping wagon con 
taining two well-soaked men upon a shelving shore. 

"Oh, I am chilled to the bones!" said Podington. 

"I should think so," replied his friend; "if you have 
got to be wet, it is a great deal pleasanter under the 

There was a field-road on this side of the pond which 
Podington well knew, and proceeding along this they came 
to the bridge and got into the main road. 

"Now we must get home as fast as we can," cried Pod< 
ington, "or we shall both take cold. I wish I hadn't lost 
my whip. Hi now! Get along!" 

Podington was now full of life and energy, his wheels 
were on the hard road, and he was himself again. 

When he found his head was turned toward his home, 
the horse set off at a great rate. 

"Hi there!" cried Podington. "I am so sorry I lost my 

"Whip!" said Buller, holding fast to the side of the seat; 
"surely you don't want him to go any faster than this. 
And look here, William," he added, "it seems to me we 
are much more likely to take cold in our wet clothes if we 
rush through the air in this way. Really, it seems to me 
that horse is running away." 

"Not a bit of it," cried Podington. "He wants to get 
home, and he wants his dinner. Isn't he a fine horse? Look 
how he steps out!" 

"Steps out!" said Buller, "I think I'd like to step out 
myself. Don't you think it would be wiser for me to walk 
home, William? That will warm me up." 

"It will take you an hour," said his friend. "Stay where 


you are, and I'll have you in a dry suit of clothes hi less 
than fifteen minutes." 

"I tell you, William," said Mr. Buller, as the two sat 
smoking after dinner, "what you ought to do; you should 
never go out driving without a life-preserver and a pair of 
oars; I always take them. It would make you feel safer." 

Mr. Buller went home the next day, because Mr. Poding- 
ton's clothes did not fit him, and his own outdoor suit was 
so shrunken as to be uncomfortable. Besides, there was 
another reason, connected with the desire of horses to reach 
their homes, which prompted his return. But he had not 
forgotten his compact with his friend, and in the course of 
a week he wrote to Podington, inviting him to spend some 
days with him. Mr. Podington was a man of honor, and 
in spite of his recent unfortunate water experience he would 
not break his word. He went to Mr. Buller's seaside home 
at the time appointed. 

Early on the morning after his arrival, before the family 
were up, Mr. Podington went out and strolled down to 
the edge of the bay. He went to look at Buller's boat. He 
was well aware that he would be asked to take a sail, and 
as Buller had driven with him, it would be impossible for 
him to decline sailing with Buller; but he must see the 
boat. There was a train for his home at a quarter past 
seven ; if he were not on the premises he could not be asked 
to sail. If Buller's boat were a little, flimsy thing, he 
would take that train 'but he would wait and see. 

There was only one small boat anchored near the beach, 
and a man apparently a fisherman informed Mr. Poding 
ton that it belonged to Mr. Buller. Podington looked at it 
eagerly; it was not very small and not flimsy. 

"Do you consider that a safe boat?" he asked the fisher 

"Safe?" replied the man. "You could not upset her if 
you tried. Look at her breadth of beam! You could go 
anywhere in that boat! Are you thinking of buying 

The idea that he would think of buying a boat made 
Mr. Podington laugh. The information that it would be 


impossible to upset the little vessel had greatly cheered him. 
and he could laugh. 

Shortly after breakfast Mr. Buller, like a nurse with a 
dose of medicine, came to Mr. Podington with the expected 
invitation to take a sail. 

"Now, William," said his host, "I understand perfectly 
your feeling about boats, and what I wish to prove to you 
is that it is a feeling without any foundation. I don't want 
to shock you or make you nervous, so I am not going to 
take you out today on the bay in my boat. You are as 
safe on the bay as you would be on land a little safer, 
perhaps, under certain circumstances, to which we will not 
allude but still it is sometimes a little rough, and this, at 
first, might cause you some uneasiness, and so I am going 
to let you begin your education in the sailing line on per 
fectly smooth water. About three miles back of us there 
is a very pretty lake several miles long. It is part of the 
canal system which connects the town with the railroad. I 
have sent my boat to the town, and we can walk up there 
and go by the canal to the lake; it is only about three 

If he had to sail at all, this kind of sailing suited Mr. 
Podington. A canal, a quiet lake, and a boat which could 
not be upset. When they reached the town the boat was 
in the canal, ready for them. 

"Now," said Mr. Buller, "you get in and make yourself 
comfortable. My idea is to hitch on to a canal-boat and be 
towed to the lake. The boats generally start about this 
time in the morning, and I will go and see about it." 

Mr. Podington, under the direction of his friend, took a 
seat in the stern of the sailboat, and then he remarked: 

"Thomas, have you a life-preserver on board? You 
know I am not used to any kind of vessel, and I am clumsy. 
Nothing might happen to the boat, but I might trip an<f 
fall overboard, and I can't swim." 

"All right," said Buller; "here's a life-preserver, and yoq 
can put it on. I want you to feel perfectly safe. Now > 
will go and see about the tow." 

But Mr. Buller found that the canal-boats would not 


start at their usual time; the loading of one of them was 
not finished, and he was informed that he might have to 
wait for an hour or more. This did not suit Mr. Buller 
at all, and he did not hesitate to show his annoyance. 

"I tell you, sir, what you can do," said one of the men 
in charge of the boats; "if you don't want to wait till we 
are ready to start, we'll let you have a boy and a horse to 
tow you up to the lake. That won't cost you much, and 
they'll be back before we want 'em." 

The bargain was made, and Mr. Buller joyfully returned 
to his boat with the intelligence that they were not to wait 
for the canal-boats. A long rope, with a horse attached to 
the other end of it, was speedily made fast to the boat, and 
with a boy at the head of the horse, they started up the 

"Now this is the kind of sailing I like," said Mr. Pod- 
dington. "If I lived near a canal I believe I would buy a 
boat and train my horse to tow. I could have a long pair 
of rope-lines and drive him myself; then when the roads 
were rough and bad the canal would always be smooth." 

"This is all very nice," replied Mr. Buller, who sat by the 
tiller to keep the boat away from the bank, "and I am glad 
to see you in a boat under any circumstances. Do you 
know, William, that although I did not plan it, there could 
not have been a better way to begin your sailing education. 
Here we glide along, slowly and gently, with no possible 
thought of danger, for if the boat should suddenly spring a 
leak, as if it were the body of a wagon, all we would have 
to do would be to step on shore, and by the time you get 
to the end of the canal you will like this gentle motion so 
much that you will be perfectly ready to begin the second 
-stage of your nautical education." 

"Yes," said Mr. Podington. "How long did you say this 
canal is?" 

"About three miles," answered his friend. "Then we will 
go into the lock and in a few minutes we shall be on the 

"So far as I am concerned," said Mr. Podington, "I wish 
the canal were twelve miles long. I cannot imagine any- 


thing pleasanter than this. If I lived anywhere near a canal 
a long canal, I mean, this one is too short I'd " 

"Come, come now," interrupted Buller. "Don't be con 
tent to stay in the primary school just because it is easy. 
When we get on the lake I will show you that in a boat, 
with a gentle breeze, such as we are likely to have today, 
you will find the motion quite as pleasing, and ever so much 
more inspiriting. I should not be a bit surprised, William, 
if after you have been two or three times on the lake you 
will ask me yes, positively ask me to take you out on 
the bay!" 

Mr. Podington smiled, and leaning backward, he looked 
up at the beautiful blue sky. 

"You can't give me anything better than this, Thomas," 
said he; "but you needn't think I am weakening; you drove 
with me, and I will sail with you." 

The thought came into Buller's mind that he had done 
both of these things with Podington, but he did not wish to 
call up unpleasant memories, and said nothing. 

About half a mile from the town there stood a small cot 
tage where house-cleaning was going on, and on a fence, not 
far from the canal, there hung a carpet gaily adorned with 
stripes and spots of red and yellow. 

When the drowsy tow-horse came abreast of the house, 
and the carpet caught his eye, he suddenly stopped and 
gave a start toward the canal. Then, impressed with a 
horror of the glaring apparition, he gathered himself up, 
and with a bound dashed along the tow-path. The as 
tounded boy gave a shout, but was speedily left behind. 
The boat of Mr. Buller shot forward as if she had been 
struck by a squall. 

The terrified horse sped on as if a red and yellow demon 
were after him. The boat bounded, and plunged, and fre 
quently struck the grassy bank of the canal, as if it would 
break itself to pieces. Mr. Podington clutched the boom 
to keep himself from being thrown out, while Mr. Buller, 
both hands upon the tiller, frantically endeavored to keep 
the boat from the bank. 

"William!" he screamed, "he is running away with us; 


we shall be dashed to pieces! Can't you get forward and 
cast off that line?" 

"What do you mean?" cried Podington, as the boom 
gave a great jerk as if it would break its fastenings and 
drag him overboard. 

"I mean untie the tow-line. We'll be smashed if you 
don't! I can't leave this tiller. Don't try to stand up; 
bold on to the boom and creep forward. Steady now, or 
you'll be overboard!" 

Mr. Podington stumbled to the bow of the boat, his 
efforts greatly impeded by the big cork life-preserver tied 
under his arms, and the motion of the boat was so violent 
and erratic that he was obliged to hold on to the mast with 
one arm and to try to loosen the knot with the other; but 
there was a great strain on the rope, and he could do noth 
ing with one hand. 

"Cut it! Cut it!" cried Mr. Buller. 

"I haven't a knife," replied Podington. 

Mr. Buller was terribly frightened; his boat was cutting 
through the water as never vessel of her class had sped since 
sail-boats were invented, and bumping against the bank as 
if she were a billiard-ball rebounding from the edge of a 
table. He forgot he was in a boat; he only knew that for 
the first time in his life he was in a runaway. He let go 
the tiller. It was of no use to him. 

"William," he cried, "let us jump out the next time we 
are near enough to shore!" 

"Don't do that! Don't do that!" replied Podington. 
"Don't jump out in a runaway; that is the way to get 
hurt. Stick to your seat, my boy; he can't keep this up 
much longer. He'll lose his wind!" 

Mr. Podington was greatly excited, but he was not fright 
ened, as Buller was. He had been in a runaway before, 
and he could not help thinking how much better a wagon 
was than a boat in such a case. 

"If he were hitched up shorter and I had a snaffle-bit and 
a stout pair of reins," thought he, "I could soon bring 
him up." 

But Mr. Buller was rapidly losing his wits. The horse 


seemed to be going faster than ever. The boat bumped 
harder against the bank, and at one time Buller thought 
they could turn over. 

Suddenly a thought struck him. 

"William," he shouted, "tip that anchor over the side! 
Throw it in, any way!" 

Mr. Podington looked about him, and, almost under his 
feet, saw the anchor. He did not instantly comprehend 
why Buller wanted it thrown overboard, but this was not 
a time to ask questions. The difficulties imposed by the 
life-preserver, and the necessity of holding on with one 
hand, interfered very much with his getting at the anchor 
and throwing it over the side, but at last he succeeded, and 
just as the boat threw up her bow as if she were about to 
jump on shore, the anchor went out and its line shot after 
it. There was an irregular trembling of the boat as the 
anchor struggled along the bottom of the canal; then there 
was a great shock; the boat ran into the bank and stopped; 
the tow-line was tightened like a guitar-string, and the 
horse, jerked back with great violence, came tumbling in a 
heap upon the ground. 

Instantly Mr. Podington was on the shore and running 
at the top of his speed toward the horse. The astounded 
animal had scarcely begun to struggle to his feet when 
Podington rushed upon him, pressed his head back to the 
ground, and sat upon it. 

"Hurrah! " he cried, waving his hat above his head. "Get 
out, Buller; he is all right now!" 

Presently Mr. Buller approached, very much shaken up. 

"All right?" he said. "I don't call a horse flat in a road 
with a man on his head all right; but hold him down till 
we get him loose from my boat. That is the thing to do. 
William, cast him loose from the boat before you let him 
up! What will he do when he gets up?" 

"Oh. he'll be quiet enough when he gets up," said Poding 
ton. "But if you've got a knife you can cut his traces 
I mean that rope but no, you needn't. Here comes the 
boy. We'll settle this business in very short order now." 

When the horse was on his feet, and all connection between 


the animal and the boat had been severed, Mr. Podington 
looked at his friend. 

"Thomas," said he, "you seem to have had a hard time 
of it. You have lost your hat and you look as if you had 
been in a wrestling-match." 

"I have," replied the other; "I wrestled with that tiller 
and I wonder it didn't throw me out." 

Now approached the boy. "Shall I hitch him on again, 
sir?" said he. "He's quiet enough now." 

"No," cried Mr. Buller; "I want no more sailing after a 
horse, and, besides, we can't go on the lake with that boat; 
she has been battered about so much that she must have 
opened a dozen seams. The best thing we can do is to walk 

Mr. Podington agreed with his friend that walking home 
was the best thing they could do. The boat was examined 
and found to be leaking, but not very badly, and when her 
mast had been unshipped and everything had been made 
tight and right on board, she was pulled out of the way 
of tow-lines and boats, and made fast until she could be 
sent for from the town. 

Mr. Buller and Mr. Podington walked back toward the 
town. They had not gone very far when they met a party 
of boys, who, upon seeing them, burst into unseemly 

"Mister," cried one of them, <- 'you needn't be afraid of 
tumbling into the canal. Why don't you take off your life- 
preserver and let that other man put it on his head?" 

The two friends looked at each other and could not help 
joining in the laughter of the boys. 

"By George! I forgot all about this," said Podington, 
as he unfastened the cork jacket. "It does look a little 
super-timid to wear a life-preserver just because one hap 
pens to be walking by the side of a canal." 

Mr. Buller tied a handkerchief on his head, and Mr. 
Podington rolled up his life-preserver and carried it under 
his arm. Thus they reached the town, where Buller bought. 
a hat, Podington dispensed with his bundle, and arrange 
ments were made to bring back the boat, 


"Runaway in a sailboat!" exclaimed one of the canal 
boatmen when he had heard about the accident. "Upon my 
word! That beats anything that could 'happen to a man!" 

"No, it doesn't," replied Mr. Buller, quietly. "I have 
gone to the bottom in a foundered road-wagon." 

The man looked at him fixedly. 

"Was you ever struck in the mud in a balloon?" he asked. 

"Not yet," replied Mr. Buller. 

It required ten days to put Mr. Buller's sailboat into 
proper condition, and for ten days Mr. Podington stayed 
with his friend, and enjoyed his visit very much. They 
strolled on the beach, they took long walks in the back 
country, they fished from the end of a pier, they smoked, 
they talked, and were happy and content. 

"Thomas," said Mr. Podington, on the last evening of 
his stay, "I have enjoyed myself very much since I have 
been down here, and now, Thomas, if I were to come down 
again next summer, would you mind would you mind, 
not ' 

"I would not mind it a bit," replied Buller, promptly. 
"I'll never so much as mention it; so you can come along 
without a thought of it. And since you have alluded to 
the subject, William," he continued, "I'd like very much to 
come and see you again; you know my visit was a very 
short one this year. That is a beautiful country you live 
in. Such a variety of scenery, such an opportunity for 
walks and rambles! But, William, if you could only make 
up your mind not to " 

"Oh, that is all right!" exclaimed Podington. "I do not 
need to make up my mind. You come to my house and 
you will never so much as hear of it. Here's my hand 
upon it!" 

"And here's mine!" said Mr. Buller. 

And they shook hands over a new compact. 


BY BRET HARTE (1839-1902) 

IT HAD been a day of triumph for Colonel Starbottle. 
First, for his personality, as it would have been difficult 
to separate the Colonel's achievements from his individ 
uality; second, for his oratorical abilities as a sympathetic 
pleader; and third, for his functions as the leading counsel 
for the Eureka Ditch Company versus the State of California. 
On his strictly legal performances in this issue I prefer not 
to speak; there were those who denied them, although the 
jury had accepted them in the face of the ruling of the half- 
amused, half-cynical Judge himself. For an hour they 
had laughed with the Colonel, wept with him, been stirred 
to personal indignation or patriotic exaltation by his pas 
sionate and lofty periods what else could they do than 
give him their verdict? If it was alleged by some that the 
American eagle, Thomas Jefferson, and the Resolutions of 
'98 had nothing whatever to do with the contest of a ditch 
company over a doubtfully worded legislative document; 
that wholesale abuse of the State Attorney and his political 
motives had not the slightest connection with the legal ques 
tion raised it was, nevertheless, generally accepted that the 
losing party would have been only too glad to have the 
Colonel on their side. And Colonel Starbottle knew this, as, 

From Harper's Magazine, March, 1901. Republished in the 
volume, Openings in the Old Trail (1002), by Bret Harte ; copy 
right, 1902, by Houghton Mifflin Company, the authorized pub 
lishers of Bret Harte's complete works; reprinted by their per 



perspiring, florid, and panting, he rebuttoned the lower 
buttons of his blue frock-coat, which had become loosed in 
an oratorical spasm, and readjusted his old-fashioned, spot 
less shirt frill above it as he strutted from the court-room 
amidst the hand-shakings and acclamations of his friends. 

And here an unprecedented thing occurred. The Colonel 
absolutely declined spirituous refreshment at the neighbor 
ing Palmetto Saloon, and declared his intention of proceed 
ing directly to his office in the adjoining square. Neverthe 
less the Colonel quitted the building alone, and apparently 
unarmed except for his faithful gold-headed stick, which 
hung as usual from his forearm. The crowd gazed after 
him with undisguised admiration of this new evidence of his 
pluck. It was remembered also that a mysterious note had 
been handed to him at the conclusion of his speech evi 
dently a challenge from the State Attorney. It was quite 
plain that the Colonel a practised duellist was hastening 
home to answer it. 

But herein they were wrong. The note was in a female 
hand, and simply requested the Colonel to accord an inter 
view with the writer at the Colonel's office as soon as he left 
the court. But it was an engagement that the Colonel as 
devoted to the fair sex as he was to the "code" was no less 
prompt in accepting. He flicked away the dust from his 
spotless white trousers and varnished boots with his hand 
kerchief, and settled his black cravat under his Byron collar 
as he neared his office. He was surprised, however, on open 
ing the door of his private office to find his visitor already 
there; he was still more startled to find her somewhat past 
middle age and plainly attired. But the Colonel was brought 
up in a school of Southern politeness, already antique in 
the republic, and his bow of courtesy belonged to the epoch 
of his shirt frill and strapped trousers. No one could have 
detected his disappointment in his manner, albeit hi? sen 
tences were short and incomplete. But the Colonel's col 
loquial speech was apt to be fragmentary incoherencies of 
his larger oratorical utterances. 

"A thousand pardons for er having kept a lady wait' 
ing er! But er congratulations of friends and er 


courtesy due to them er interfered with though perhaps 
only heightened by procrastination pleasure of ha!" 
And the Colonel completed his sentence with a gallant wave 
of his fat but white and well-kept hand. 

"Yes! I came to see you along o' that speech of yours* 
I was in court. When I heard you gettin' it off on that jury, 
I says to myself that's the kind o' lawyer / want. A man 
that's flowery and convincin'! Just the man to take up 
our case." 

j "Ah! It's a matter of business, I see," said the Colonel, 
inwardly relieved, but externally careless. "And er may 
I ask the nature of the case?" 

"Well! it's a breach-o'-promise suit," said the visitor, 

If the Colonel had been surprised before, he was now 
really startled, and with an added horror that required all 
his politeness to conceal. Breach-of-promise cases were his 
peculiar aversion. He had always held them to be a kind 
of litigation which could have been obviated by the prompt 
killing of the masculine offender in which case he would 
have gladly defended the killer. But a suit for damages! 
damages! with the reading of love-letters before a hilarious 
jury and court, was against all his instincts. His chivalry 
was outraged; his sense of humor was small and in the 
course of his career he had lost one or two important cases 
through an unexpected development of this quality in a 

The woman had evidently noticed his hesitation, but mis 
took its cause. "It ain't me but my darter." 

The Colonel recovered his politeness. "Ah! I am re 
lieved, my dear madam! I could hardly conceive a man 
ignorant enough to er er throw away such evident good 
fortune or base enough to deceive the trustfulness of 
womanhood matured and experienced only in the chivalry 
of our sex, ha!" 

The woman smiled grimly. "Yes! it's my darter, Zaidee 
Hooker so ye might spare some of them pretty speeches 
for her before the jury." 

The Colonel winced slightly before this doubtful prospect, 


but smiled. "Ha! Yes! certainly the jury. But er 
my dear lady, need we go as far as -that? Cannot this 
affair be settled er out of court? Could not this er 
individual be admonished told that he must give satisfac 
tion personal satisfaction for his dastardly conduct to 
er near relative or even valued personal friend? The 
er arrangements necessary for that purpose I myself 
would undertake." 

He was quite sincere; indeed, his small black eyes shone 
with that fire which a pretty woman or an "affair of honor" 
could alone kindle. The visitor stared vacantly at Mm, and 
said, slowly: 

"And what good is that goin' to do us?" 

"Compel him to er perform his promise," said tfae 
Colonel, leaning back in his chair. 

"Ketch him doin' it!" said the woman, scornfully. "No 
that ain't wot we're after. We must make him pay! 
Damages and nothin' short o' that." 

The Colonel bit his lip. "I suppose," he said, gloomily, 
"you have documentary evidence written .promises and 
protestations er er love-letters, in fact?" 

"No nary a letter! Ye see, that's jest it and that's 
where you come in. You've got to convince that jury your 
self. You've got to show what it is tell the whole story 
your own way. Lord! to a man like you that's nothin'." 

Startling at this admission might have been to any other 
lawyer, Starbottle was absolutely relieved by it. The ab 
sence of any mirth-provoking correspondence, and the ap 
peal solely to his own powers of persuasion, actually struck 
his fancy. He lightly put aside the compliment with a wave 
of his white hand. 

"Of course," said the Colonel, confidently, "there is 
strongly presumptive and corroborative evidence? Perhaps 
you can give me er a brief outline of the affair?" 

"Zaidee kin do that straight enough, I reckon," said the 
woman; "what I want to know first is, kin you take the 

The Colonel did not hesitate; his curiosity was piqued. 
"I certainly can. I have no doubt your daughter will put 


me in possession of sufficient facts and details to constitute 
what we call er a brief." 

"She kin be brief enough or long enough for the mat 
ter of that," said the woman, rising. The Colonel accepted 
this implied witticism with a smile. 

"And when may I have the pleasure of seeing her?" he 
asked, politely. 

"Well, I reckon as soon as I can trot out and call her. 
She's just outside, meanderin' in the road kinder shy, ye 
know, at first." 

She walked to the door. The astounded Colonel never 
theless gallantly accompanied her as she stepped out into 
the street and called, shrilly, "You Zaidee!" 

A young girl here apparently detached herself from a tree 
and the ostentatious perusal of an old election poster, and 
sauntered down towards the office door. Like her mother, 
die was plainly dressed; unlike her, she had a pale, rather 
refined face, with a demure mouth and downcast eyes. This 
was all the Colonel saw as he bowed profoundly and led the 
way into his office, for she accepted his salutations without 
lifting her head. He helped her gallantly to a chair, on 
which she seated herself sideways, somewhat ceremoniously, 
with her eyes following the point of her parasol as she traced 
a pattern on the carpet. A second chair offered to the 
mother that lady, however, declined. "I reckon to leave you 
and Zaidee together to talk it out," she said; turning to her 
daughter, she added, "Jest you tell him all, Zaidee," and 
before the Colonel could rise again, disappeared from the 
room. In spite of his professional experience, Starbottle 
was for a moment embarrassed. The young girl, however, 
broke the silence without looking up. 

"Adoniram K. Hotchkiss," she began, in a monotonous 
voice, as if it were a recitation addressed to the public, "first 
began to take notice of me a year ago. Arter that off 
and on " 

"One moment," interrupted the astounded Colonel; "do 
you mean Hotchkiss the President of the Ditch Company?" 
He had recognized the name of a prominent citizen a rigid 
nscetic, tactiturn, middle-aged man a deacon and more 


than that, the head of the company he had just defended. 
It seemed inconceivable. 

"That's him," she continued, with eyes still fixed on the 
parasol and without changing her monotonous tone "off 
and on ever since. Most of the time at the Free- Will Bap 
tist church at morning service, prayer-meetings, and such. 
And at home outside er in the road." 

"Is it this gentleman Mr. Adoniram K. Hotchkiss who 
er promised marriage?" stammered the Colonel. 


The Colonel shifted uneasily in his chair. "Most extraor 
dinary! for you see my dear young lady this becomes 
a er most delicate affair." 

"That's what maw said," returned the young woman, 
simply, yet with the faintest smile playing around her de 
mure lips and downcast cheek. 

"I mean," said the Colonel, with a pained yet courteous 
smile, "that this er gentleman is in fact er one of my 

"That's what maw said, too, and of course your knowing 
him will make it all the easier for you," said the young 

A slight flush crossed the Colonel's cheek as he re 
turned quickly and a little stiffly, "On the contrary er 
it may make it impossible for me to er act in this mat 

The girl lifted her eyes. The Colonel held his breath as 
the long lashes were raised to his level. Even to an ordi 
nary observer that sudden revelation of her eyes seemed to 
transform her face with subtle witchery. They were large, 
brown, and soft, yet filled with 'an extraordinary penetration 
and prescience. They were the eyes of an experienced woman 
of thirty fixed in the face of a child. What else the Colonel 
saw there Heaven only knows! He felt his inmost secrets 
plucked from him his whole soul laid bare his vanity, 
belligerency, gallantry even his medieval chivalry, pene 
trated, and yet illuminated, in that single glance. And when 
the eyelids fell again, he felt that a greater part of himself 
had been swallowed up in them. 


"I beg your pardon," he said, hurriedly. "I mean this 
matter may be arranged er amicably. My interest with 
and as you wisely say my er knowledge of my client 
er Mr. Hotchkiss may affect a compromise." 

"And damages," said the young girl, readdressing her 
parasol, as if she had never looked up. 

The Colonel winced. "And er undoubtedly compen 
sation if you do not press a fulfilment of the promise. 
Unless," he said, with an attempted return to his former 
easy gallantry, which, however, the recollection of her 
eyes made difficult, "it is a question of er the affec 

"Which?" said his fair client, softly. 

"If you still love him?" explained the Colonel, actually 

Zaidee again looked up; again taking the Colonel's breath 
away with eyes that expressed not only the fullest perception 
of what he had said, but of what he thought and had not 
said, and with an added subtle suggestion of what he might 
have thought. "That's tellin'/' she said, dropping her long 
lashes again. The Colonel laughed vacantly. Then feeling 
himself growing imbecile, he forced an equally weak grav 
ity. "Pardon me I understand there are no letters; may 
I know the way in which he formulated his declaration and 

"Hymn-books," said the girl, briefly. 

"I beg your pardon," said the mystified lawyer. 

"Hymn-books marked words in them with pencil and 
passed 'em on to me," repeated Zaidee. "Like 'love,' 'dear,' 
'precious,' 'sweet,' and 'blessed,' " she added, accenting each 
word with a push of her parasol on the carpet. "Sometimes 
a whole line outer Tate and Brady and Solomon's Song, 
you know, and sich." 

"I believe," said the Colonel, loftily, "that the er 
phrases of sacred psalmody lend themselves to the language 
of the affections. But in regard to the distinct promise of 
marriage was there er no other expression?" 

"Marriage Service in the prayer-book lines and words 
outer that all marked," said Zaidee. The Colonel nodded 


naturally and approvingly. "Very good. Were others cog* 
nizant of this? Were there any witnesses?" 

"Of course not," said the girl. "Only me and him. It 
was generally at church-time or prayer-meeting. Once, in 
passing the plate, he slipped one o' them peppermint lozenges 
with the letters stamped on it 'I love you' for me to take." 

The Colonel coughed slightly. "And you have the 

"I ate it," said the girl, simply. 

"Ah," said the Colonel. After a pause he added, deli 
cately: "But were these attentions er confined to er 
sacred precincts? Did he meet you elsewhere?" 

"Useter pass our house on the road," returned the 
girl, dropping into her monotonous recital, "and useter 

"Ah, signal?" repeated the Colonel, approvingly. 

"Yes! He'd say 'Kerrow,' and I'd say 'Kerree.' Suthing 
like a bird, you know." 

Indeed, as she lifted her voice in imitation of the call the 
Colonel thought it certainly very sweet and birdlike. At 
least as she gave it. With his remembrance of the grim 
deacon he had doubts as to the melodiousness of his utter 
ance. He gravely made her repeat it. 

"And after that signal?" he added, suggestively. 

"He'd pass on," said the girl. 

The Colonel coughed slightly, and tapped his desk with 
his pen-holder. 

"Were there any endearments er caresses er such as 
taking your hand er clasping your waist?" he suggested, 
with a gallant yet respectful sweep of his white hand and 
bowing of his head; "er slight pressure of your fingers in 
the changes of a dance I mean," he corrected himself, with 
an apologetic cough "in the passing of the plate?" 

"No; he was not what you'd call 'fond,' " returned the 

"Ah! Adoniram K. Hotchkiss was not 'fond' in the ordi 
nary acceptance of the word," said the Colonel, with pro 
fessional gravity. 

She lifted her disturbing eyes, and again absorbed his in 


her own. She also said "Yes," although her eyes in their 
mysterious prescience of all he was thinking disclaimed the 
necessity of any answer at all. He smiled vacantly. There 
was a long pause. On which she slowly disengaged her para 
sol from the carpet pattern and stood up. 

"I reckon that's about all," she said. 

"Er yes but one moment," said the Colonel, vaguely. 
He would have liked to keep her longer, but with her strange 
premonition of him he felt powerless to detain her, or ex 
plain his reason for doing so. He instinctively knew she 
had told him all; his professional judgment told him that a 
more hopeless case had never come to his knowledge. Yet 
he was not daunted, only embarrassed. "No matter," he 
said, vaguely. "Of course I shall have to consult with you 
again." Her eyes again answered that she expected he 
would, but she added, simply, "When?" 

"In the course of a day or two," said the Colonel, quickly. 
"I will send you word." She turned to go. In his eagerness 
to open the door for her he upset his chair, and with some 
confusion, that was actually youthful, he almost impeded 
her movements in the hall, and knocked his broad-brimmed 
Panama hat from his bowing hand in a final gallant sweep. 
Yet as her small, trim, youthful figure, with its simple Leg 
horn straw hat confined by a blue bow under her round chin, 
passed away before him, she looked more like a child than 

The Colonel spent that afternoon in making diplomatic 
inquiries. He found his youthful client, was the daughter of 
a widow who had a small ranch on the cross-roads, near 
the new Free-Will Baptist church the evident theatre of 
this pastoral. They led a secluded life; the girl being little 
known in the town, and her beauty and fascination appar 
ently not yet being a recognized fact. The Colonel felt a 
pleasurable relief at this, and a general satisfaction he could 
not account for. His few inquiries concerning Mr. Hotch- 
kiss only confirmed his own impressions of the alleged lover 
a serious-minded, practically abstracted man abstentive 
of youthful society, and the last man apparently capable of 
levity of the affections or serious flirtation. The Colonel 


was mystified but determined of purpose whatever that 
purpose might have been. 

The next day he was at his office at the same hour. He 
was alone as usual the Colonel's office really being his 
private lodgings, disposed in connecting rooms, a single 
apartment reserved for consultation. He had no clerk; his 
papers and briefs being taken by his faithful body-servant 
and ex-slave "Jim" to another firm who did his office-work 
since the death of Major Stryker the Colonel's only law 
partner, who fell in a duel some years previous. With a fine 
constancy the Colonel still retained his partner's name on his 
door-plate and, it was alleged by the superstitious, kept a 
certain invincibility also through the manes of that lamented 
and somewhat feared man. 

The Colonel consulted his watch, whose heavy gold case 
still showed the marks of a providential interference with 
a bullet destined for its owner, and replaced it with some 
difficulty and shortness of breath in his fob. At the same 
moment he heard a step in the passage, and the door opened 
to Adoniram K. Hotchkiss. The Colonel was impressed; he 
had a duellist's respect for punctuality. 

The man entered with a nod and the expectant, inquiring 
look of a busy man. As his feet crossed that sacred threshold 
the Colonel became all courtesy; he placed a chair for his 
visitor, and took his hat from his half-reluctant hand. He 
then opened a cupboard and brought out a bottle of whiskey 
and two glasses. 

"A er slight refreshment, Mr. Hotchkiss," he sug 
gested, politely. "I never drink," replied Hotchkiss, with 
tlhe severe attitude of a total abstainer. "Ah er not the 
finest bourbon whiskey, selected by a Kenturky friend? 
No? Pardon me! A cigar, then the mildest Havana." 

"I do not use tobacco nor alcohol in any form," repeated 
Hotchkiss, ascetioally. "I have no foolish weaknesses." 

The Colonel's moist, beady eyes swept silently over his 
client's sallow face. He leaned back comfortably in his 
chair, and half closing his eyes as in dreamy reminiscence, 
said, slowly: "Your reply, Mr. Hotchkiss, reminds me of 
of sing'lar circumstances that er occurred, in point oJ 


fact at the St. Charles Hotel, New Orleans. Pinkey Horn- 
blower personal friend invited Senator Doolittle to join 
him in social glass. Received, sing'larly enough, reply simi 
lar to yours. 'Don't drink nor smoke?' said Pinkey. 'Gad, 
sir, you must be mighty sweet on the ladies.' Ha!" The 
Colonel paused long enough to allow the faint flush to pass 
from Hotchkiss's cheek, and went on, half closing his eyes: 
" 'I allow no man, sir, to discuss my personal habits,' said 
Doolittle, over his shirt collar. 'Then I reckon shootin' must 
be one of those habits,' said Pinkey, coolly. Both men drove 
out on the Shell Road back of cemetery next morning. 
Pinkey put bullet at twelve paces through Doolittle's tem 
ple. Poor Doo never spoke again. Left three wives and 
seven children, they say two of 'em black." 

"I got a note from you this morning," said Hotchkiss, 
with badly concealed impatience. "I suppose in reference 
to our case. You have taken judgment, I believe." The 
Colonel, without replying, slowly filled a glass of whiskey 
and water. For a moment he held it dreamily before him, 
as if still engaged in gentle reminiscences called up by the 
act. Then tossing it off, he wiped his lips with a large white 
handkerchief, and leaning back comfortably in his chair, 
said, witih a wave of his hand, "The interview I requested, 
Mr. Hotchkiss, concerns a subject which I may say is 
er er at present not of a public or business nature 
although later it might become er er both. It is an 
affair of some er delicacy." 

The Colonel paused, and Mr. Hotchkiss regarded him 
with increased impatience. The Colonel, however, con 
tinued, with unchanged deliberation: "It concerns er a 
young lady a beautiful, high-souled creature, sir, who, 
apart from her personal loveliness er er I may say is of 
one of the first families of Missouri, and er not re 
motely connected by marriage with one of er er my 
boyhood's dearest friends." The latter, I grieve to say, 
was a pure invention of the Colonel's an oratorical addi 
tion to the scanty information he had obtained the previous 
day. "The young lady," he continued, blandly, "enjoys 
the further distinction of being the object of such attention 


from you as would make this interview really a con 
fidential matter er er among friends and er er re 
lations in present and future. I need not say that the 
lady I refer to is Miss Zaidee Juno Hooker, only daughter 
of Almira Ann Hooker, relict of Jefferson Brown Hooker, 
formerly of Boone County, Kentucky, and latterly of 
er Pike County, Missouri." 

The sallow, ascetic hue of Mr. Hotchkiss's face had 
passed through a livid and then a greenish shade, and 
finally settled into a sullen red. "What's all this about?" 
he demanded, roughly. The least touch of belligerent fire 
came into Starbottle's eye, but his bland courtesy did not 
change. "I believe," he said, politely, "I have made my 
self clear as between er gentlemen, though perhaps not 
as clear as I should to er er jury." 

Mr. Hotchkiss was apparently struck with some signifi 
cance in the lawyer's reply. "I don't know," he said, in a 
lower and more cautious voice, "what you mean by what 
you call 'my attentions' to any one or how it concerns 
you. I have not exhausted half a dozen words with the 
person you name have never written her a line nor even 
called at her house." He rose with an assumption of ease, 
pulled down his waistcoat, buttoned his coat, and took up 
his hat. The Colonel did not move. "I believe I have 
already indicated my meaning in what I have called 'your 
attentions,' " said the Colonel, blandly, "and given you my 

'concern' for speaking as er er mutual friend. As to 

your statement of your relations with Miss Hooker, I may 
state that it is fully corroborated by the statement of the 
young lady herself in this very office yesterday." 

"Then what does this impertinent nonsense mean? Why 
am I summoned here?" said Hotchkiss, furiously. 

"Because," said the Colonel, deliberately, "that state 
ment is infamously yes, damnably to your discredit, 

Mr. Hotchkiss was here seized by one or those important 
and inconsistent rages which occasionally betray the habit 
ually cautious and timid man. He caught up the Colonel's 
stick, which was lying on the table. At the same momeii; 


the Colonel, without any apparent effort, grasped it by the 
handle. To Mr. Hotchkiss's astonishment, the stick sep- 
aparated in two pieces, leaving the handle and about two 
feet of narrow glittering steel in the Colonel's hand. The 
man recoiled, dropping the useless fragment. The Colonel 
picked it up, fitting the shining blade in it, clicked the 
spring, and then rising, with a face of courtesy yet of un 
mistakably genuine pain, and with even a slight tremor 
in his voice, said, gravely: 

"Mr. Hotchkiss, I owe you a thousand apologies, sir, 
that er a weapon should be drawn by me even through 
your own inadvertence under the sacred protection of my 
roof, and upon an unarmed man. I beg your pardon, sir, 
and I even withdraw the expressions which provoked that 
inadvertence. Nor does this apology prevent you from 
holding me responsible personally responsible elsewhere 
for an indiscretion committed in behalf of a lady my 
er client." 

"Your client? Do you mean you have taken her case? 
You, the counsel for the Ditch Company?" said Mr. Hotch 
kiss, in trembling indignation. 

"Having won your case, sir," said the Colonel, coolly, 
"the er usages of advocacy do not prevent me from es 
pousing the cause of the weak and unprotected." 

"We shall see, sir," said Hotchkiss, grasping the handle 
of the door and backing into the passage. "There are other 
lawyers who " 

"Permit me to see you out," interrupted the Colonel, 
rising politely. 

" will be ready to resist the attacks of blackmail," con 
tinued Hotchkiss, retreating along the passage. 

"And then you will be able to repeat your remarks to 
me in the street," continued the Colonel, bowing, as he 
persisted in following his visitor to the door. 

But here Mr. Hotchkiss quickly slammed it behind him, 
and hurried away. The Colonel returned to his office, and 
sitting down, took a sheet of letter paper bearing the in 
scription "Starbottle and Stryker, Attorneys and Counsel 
lors," and wrote the following lines: 


Hooker versus Hotchkiss. 

DEAR MADAM, Having had a visit from the defendant in 
above, we should be pleased to have an interview with you at 
2 P.M. to-morrow. Your obedient servants, 


This he sealed and despatched by his trusted servant 
Jim, and then devoted a few moments to reflection. It 
was tiie custom of the Colonel to act first, and justify the 
action by reason afterwards. 

He knew that Hotchkiss would at once lay the matter 
before rival counsel. He knew that they would advise him 
that Miss Hooker had "no case" that she would be non 
suited on her own evidence, and he ought not to com 
promise, but be ready to stand trial. He believed, how 
ever, that Hotchkiss feared that exposure, and although his 
own instincts had been at first against that remedy, he was 
now instinctively in favor of it. He remembered his own 
power with a jury; his vanity and his chivalry alike ap 
proved of this heroic method; he was bound by the prosaic 
facts he had his own theory of the case, which no mere 
evidence could gainsay. In fact, Mrs. Hooker's own words 
that "he was to tell the story in his own way" actually 
appeared to him an inspiration and a prophecy. 

Perhaps there was something else, due possibly to the 
lady's wonderful eyes, of which he had thought much. Yet 
it was not her simplicity that affected him solely; on the 
contrary, it was her apparent intelligent reading of the 
character of her recreant lover and of his own! Of all the 
Colonel's previous "light" or "serious" loves none had ever 
before flattered him in that way. And it was this, com 
bined with the respect which he had held for their profes 
sional relations, that precluded his having a more familiar 
knowledge of his client, through serious questioning, or play 
ful gallantry. I am not sure it was not part of the charm 
to have a rustic femme incomprise as a client. 

Nothing could exceed the respect with which he greeted 
her as she entered his office the next day. He even affected 
not to notice that she had put on her best clothes, and he 
made no doubt appeared as when she had first attracted 


the mature yet faithless attentions of Deacon Hotchkiss 
at church. A white virginal muslin was belted around her 
slim figure by a blue ribbon, and her Leghorn hat was drawn 
around her oval cheek by a bow of the same color. She had 
a Southern girl's narrow feet, encased in white stockings and 
kid slippers, which were crossed primly before her as she sat 
in a chair, supporting her arm by her faithful parasol plant 
ed firmly on the floor. A faint odor of southernwood ex 
haled from her, and, oddly enough, stirred the Colonel with 
a far-off recollection of a pine-shaded Sunday school on a 
Georgia hillside and of his first love, aged ten, in a short, 
starched frock. Possibly it was the same recollection that 
revived something of the awkwardness he had felt then. 

He, however, smiled vaguely and, sitting down, coughed 
slightly, and placed his fingertips together. "I have had an 
er interview with Mr. Hotchkiss, but I er regret to 
say there seems to be no prospect of er compromise." He 
paused, and to his surprise her listless "company" face lit 
up with an adorable smile. "Of course! ketch him!" she 
said. "Was he mad when you told him?" She put her 
knees comfortably together and leaned forward for a reply. 

For all that, wild horses could not have torn from the 
Colonel a word about Hotchkiss's anger. "He expressed his 
intention of employing counsel and defending a suit," re 
turned the Colonel, affably basking in her smile. She 
dragged her chair nearer his desk. "Then you'll fight him 
tooth and nail?" she said eagerly; "you'll show him up? 
You'll tell the whole story your own way? You'll give him 
fits? and you'll make him pay? Sure?" she went on, 

"I er will," said the Colonel, almost as breathlessly. 

She caught his fat white hand, which was lying on the 
table, between her own and lifted it to her lips. He felt 
her soft young fingers even through the lisle-thread gloves 
that encased them and the warm moisture of her lips upon 
his skin. He felt himself flushing but was unable to 
break the silence or change his position. The next moment 
she had scuttled back with her chair to her old position. 

"I er certainly shall do my best," stammered the 


Colonel, in an attempt to recover his dignity and composure. 

"That's enough! You'll do it," said 'the girl, enthusias 
tically. "Lordy! Just you talk for me as, ye, did for his 
old Ditch Company, and you'll fetch it every time! Why, 
when you made that jury sit up the other day when you 
got that off about the Merrikan flag waving equally over 
the rights of honest citizens banded together in peaceful 
commercial pursuits, as well as over the fortress of official 
proflig " 

"Oligarchy," murmured the Colonel, courteously. 

"Oligarchy," repeated the girl, quickly, "my breath was 
just took away. I said to maw, 'Ain't he too sweet for 
anything!' I did, honest Injin! And when you rolled it 
all off at the end never missing a word (you didn't need 
to mark 'em in a lesson-book, but had 'em all ready on 

your tongue) , and walked out Well ! I didn't know you 

nor the Ditch Company from Adam, but I could have just 
run over and kissed you there before the whole court!" 

She laughed, with her face glowing, although her strange 
eyes were cast down. Alack! the Colonel's face was equally 
flushed, and his own beady eyes were on his desk. To any 
other woman he would have voiced the banal gallantry that 
he should now, himself, look forward to that reward, but 
the words never reached his lips. He laughed, coughed 
slightly, and when he looked up again she had fallen into 
the same attitude as on her first visit, with her parasol point 
on the floor. 

"I must ask you to er direct your memory to er 
another point; the breaking off of the er er er en 
gagement. Did he er give any reason for it? Or show 
any cause?" 

"No; he never said anything," returned the girl. 

"Not in his usual way? er no reproaches out of the 
hymn-book? or the sacred writings?" 

"No; he just quit." 

"Er ceased his attentions," said the Colonel, gravely. 
"And naturally you er were not conscious of any cause 
for his doing so." The girl raised her wonderful eyes so 
suddenly and so penetratingly without reply hi any other 


way that the Colonel could only hurriedly say: "I see! 
None, of course!" 

At which she rose, the Colonel rising also. "We shall 
begin proceedings at once. I must, however, caution you 
to answer no questions nor say anything about this case 
to any one until you are in court." 

She answered his request with another intelligent look 
and a nod. He accompanied her to the door. As he took 
her proffered hand he raised the lisle-thread fingers to his 
lips with old-fashioned gallantry. As if that act had con 
doned for his first omissions and awkwardness, he became 
his old-fashioned self again, buttoned his coat, pulled out 
his shirt frill, and strutted back to his desk. 

A day or two later it was known throughout the town that 
Zaidee Hooker had sued Adoniram Hotchkiss for breach 
6f promise, and that the damages were laid at five thousand 
dollars. As in those bucolic days the Western press was 
Under the secure censorship of a revolver, a cautious tone of 
criticism prevailed, and any gossip was confined to per 
sonal expression, and even then at the risk of the gossiper. 
Nevertheless, the situation provoked the intensest curiosity. 
The Colonel was approached until his statement that he 
should consider any attempt to overcome his professional 
secrecy a personal reflection withheld further advances. 
The community were left to the more ostentatious infor 
mation of the defendant's counsel, Messrs. Kitcham and 
Bilser, that the case was "ridiculous" and "rotten," that the 
plaintiff would be nonsuited, and the fire-eating Starbottle 
would be taught a lesson that he could not "bully" the law 
and there were some dark hints of a conspiracy. It was 
even hinted that the "case" was the revengeful and pre 
posterous outcome of the refusal of Hotchkiss to pay Star- 
bottle an extravagant fee for his late services to the Ditch 
Company. It is unnecessary to say that these words were 
not reported to the Colonel. It was, however, an unfortu 
nate circumstance for the calmer, ethical consideration of the 
subject that the church sided with Hotchkiss, as this pro 
voked an equal adherence to the plaintiff and Starbottle on 
the part of the larger body of non-church-goers, who were 


delighted at a possible exposure of the weakness of religious 
rectitude. "I've allus had my suspicions o' them early 
candle-light meetings down at that gospel shop," said one 
critic, "and I reckon Deacon Hotchkiss didn't rope in the 
gals to attend jest for psalm-singing." "Then for him to 
get up and leave the board afore the game's finished and 
try to sneak out of it," said another. "I suppose that'? 
what they call religious." 

It was therefore not remarkable that the courthouse three 
weeks later was crowded with an excited multitude of the 
curious and sympathizing. The fair plaintiff, with her 
mother, was early in attendance, and under the Colonel's 
advice appeared in the same modest garb in which she had 
first visited his office. This and her downcast modest de 
meanor were perhaps at first disappointing to the crowd, 
who had evidently expected a paragon of loveliness as the 
Circe of the grim ascetic defendant, who sat beside his coun 
sel. But presently all eyes were fixed on the Colonel, who 
certainly made up in his appearance any deficiency of his 
fair client. His portly figure was clothed in a blue dress- 
coat with brass buttons, a buff waistcoat which permitted 
his frilled shirt front to become erectile above it, a black 
satin stock which confined a boyish turned-down collar 
around his full neck, and immaculate drill trousers, strapped 
over varnished boots. A murmur ran round the court. "Old 
'Personally Responsible' had got his war-paint on," "The 
Old War-Horse is smelling powder," were whispered com 
ments. Yet for all that the most irreverent among them 
recognized vaguely, in this bizarre figure, something of an 
honored past in their country's history, and possibly felt 
the spell of old deeds and old names that had once thrilled 
their boyish pulses. The new District Judge returned Col 
onel Starbottle's profoundly punctilious bow. The Colonel 
was followed by his negro servant, carrying a parcel of 
hymn-books and Bibles, who, with a courtesy evidently imi 
tated from his master, placed one before the opposite coun 
sel. This, after a first curious glance, the lawyer somewhat 
superciliously tossed aside. But when Jim, proceeding tr 
the jury-box, placed with equal politeness the remaining 


copies before the jury, the opposite counsel sprang to his 

"I want to direct the attention of the Court to this un 
precedented tampering with the jury, by this gratuitous 
exhibition of matter impertinent and irrelevant to the issue." 

The Judge cast an inquiring look at Colonel Star- 

"May it please the Court," returned Colonel Starbottle 
with dignity, ignoring the counsel, "the defendant's counsel 
will observe that he is already furnished with the matter 
which I regret to say he has treated in the presence of 
the Court and of his client, a deacon of the church with 
er great superciliousness. When I state to your Honor 
that the books in question are hymn-books and copies of 
the Holy Scriptures, and that they are for the instruction 
of the jury, to whom I shall have to refer them in the course 
of my opening, I believe I am within my rights." 

"The act is certainly unprecedented," said the Judge, 
dryly, "but unless the counsel for the plaintiff expects the 
jury to sing from these hymn-books, 'their introduction is 
not improper, and I cannot admit the objection. As de 
fendant's counsel are furnished with copies also, they can 
not plead 'surprise,' as in the introduction of new matter, 
and as plaintiff's counsel relies evidently upon the jury's at 
tention to his opening, he would not be the first person to 
distract it." After a pause he added, addressing the Col 
onel, who remained standing, "The Court is with you, sir; 

But the Colonel remained motionless and statuesque, with 
folded arms. 

"I have overruled the objection," repeated the Judge; 
"you may go on." 

"I am waiting, your Honor, for the er withdrawal by 
the defendant's counsel of the word 'tampering,' as refers 
to myself, and of 'impertinent,' as refers to the sacred vol 

"The request is a proper one, and I have no doubt will 
be acceded to," returned the Judge, quietly. The defend 
ant's counsel rose and mumbled a few words of apology, and 


the incident closed. There was, however, a general feeling 
that the Colonel had in some way "scored," and if his ob 
ject had been to excite the greatest curiosity about the 
books, he had made his point. 

But impassive of his victory, he inflated his chest, with 
his right hand in the breast of his buttoned coat, and began. 
His usual high color had paled slightly, but the small pupils 
of liis prominent eyes glittered like steel. The young girl 
leaned forward in her chair with an attention so breathless, 
a sympathy so quick, and an admiration so artless and un 
conscious that in an instant she divided with the speaker 
the attention of the whole assemblage. It was very hot; 
the court was crowded to suffocation; even the open win 
dows revealed a crowd of faces outside the building, eagerly 
following the Colonel's words. 

He would remind the jury that only a few weeks ago be 
stood there as the advocate of a powerful company, then 
represented by the present defendant. He spoke then as 
the champion of strict justice against legal oppression; no 
less should he to-day champion the cause of the unpro 
tected and the comparatively defenseless save for that 
paramount power which surrounds beauty and innocence-* 
even though the plaintiff of yesterday was the defendant of 
to-day. As he approached the court a moment ago he had 
raised his eyes and beheld the starry flag flying from its 
dome and he know that glorious banner was a symbol of 
the perfect equality, under the Constitution, of the rich and 
the poor, the strong and the weak an equality which made 
the simple citizen taken from the plough in the veld, the 
pick in the gulch, or from behind the counter in the mining 
town, who served on that jury, the equal arbiters of justice 
with that highest legal luminary whom they were proud to 
welcome on the bench to-day. The Colonel paused, with 
a stately bow to the impassive Judge. It was this, he con 
tinued, which lifted his heart as he approached the building. 
And yet he had entered it with an uncertain he might 
almost say a timid step. And why? He knew, gentle 
men, he was about to confront a profound aye! a sacred 
responsibility 1 Those hymn-books and holy writings handed 


to the jury were not, as his Honor surmised, for the 
purpose of enabling the jury to indulge in er prelimi 
nary choral exercise! He might, indeed, say "alas not!" 
They were the damning, incontrovertible proofs of the per 
fidy of the defendant. And they would prove as terrible a 
warning to him as the fatal characters upon Belshazzar's 
wall. There was a strong sensation. Hotchkiss turned a 
sallow green. His lawyers assumed a careless smile. 

It was his duty to tell them that this was not one of 
those ordinary "breach-of-promise" cases which were too 
often the occasion of ruthless mirth and indecent levity in 
the courtroom. The jury would find nothing of that here. 
There were no love-letters with the epithets of endearment, 
nor those mystic crosses and ciphers which, he had been 
credibly informed, chastely hid the exchange of those mutual 
caresses known as "kisses." There was no cruel tearing of 
the veil from those sacred privacies of the human affection 
there was no forensic shouting out of those fond confidences 
meant only for one. But there was, he was shocked to say, 
a new sacrilegious intrusion. The weak pipings of Cupid 
were mingled with the chorus of the saints the sanctity of 
the temple known as the "meeting-house" was desecrated 
by proceedings more in keeping with the shrine of Venus 
and the inspired writings themselves were used as the medi 
um of amatory and wanton flirtation by the defendant in 
his sacred capacity as Deacon. 

The Colonel artistically paused after this thunderous de 
nunciation. The jury turned eagerly to the leaves of the 
hymn-books, but the larger gaze of the audience remained 
fixed upon the speaker and the girl, who sat in rapt admira 
tion of his periods. After the hush, the Colonel continued 
in a lower and sadder voice: "There are, perhaps, few of 
us here, gentlemen with the exception of the defendant 
who can arrogate to themselves the title of regular church 
goers, or to whom these humbler functions of the prayer- 
meeting, the Sunday-school, and the Bible class are habit 
ually familiar. Yet" more solemnly "down in your 
hearts is the deep conviction of our short-comings and fail 
ings, and a laudable desire that others at least should profit 


by the teachings we neglect. Perhaps," he continued, clos 
ing his eyes dreamily, "there is not a man here who does 
not recall the happy days of his boyhood, the rustic village 
spire, the lessons shared with some artless village maiden, 
with whom he later sauntered, hand in hand, through tha 
woods, as the simple rhyme rose upon their lips, 

Always make it a point to have it a rule 
Never to be late at the Sabbath-school. 

He would recall the strawberry feasts, the welcome annual 
picnic, redolent with hunks of gingerbread and sarsaparilla. 
How would they feel to know that these sacred recollections 
were now forever profaned in their memory by the knowl 
edge that the defendant was capable of using such occasions 
to make love to the larger girls and teachers, whilst his art 
less companions were innocently the Court will pardon me 
for introducing what I am credibly informed is the local 
expression 'doing gooseberry'?" The tremulous flicker of 
a smile passed over the faces of the listening crowd, and the 
Colonel slightly winced. But he recovered himself instantly, 
and continued: 

"My client, the only daughter of a widowed mother 
who has for years stemmed the varying tides of adversity 
in the western precincts of this town stands before you to 
day invested only in her own innocence. She wears no er 
rich gifts of her faithless admirer is panoplied in no 
jewels, rings, nor mementoes of affection such as lovers de 
light to hang upon the shrine of their affections; hers is not 
the glory with which Solomon decorated the Queen of She- 
ba, though the defendant, as I shall show later, dothed hef 
in the less expensive flowers of the king's poetry. No! gen 
tlemen! The defendant exhibited in this affair a certain 
frugality of er pecuniary investment, which I am willing 
to admit may be commendable in his class. His only gift 
was characteristic alike of his methods and his economy. 
There is, I understand, a certain not unimportant feature 
of religious exercise known as 'taking a collection.' The de 
fendant, on this occasion, by the mute presentation of a tip 


plate covered with baize, solicited the pecuniary contribu 
tions of the faithful. On approaching the plaintiff, however, 
he himself slipped a love-token upon the plate and pushed it 
towards her. That love-token was a lozenge a small disk, 
I have reason to believe, concocted of peppermint and sugar, 
bearing upon its reverse surface the simple words, 'I love 
you!' I have since ascertained that these disks may be 
bought for five cents a dozen or at considerably less than 
one half-cent for the single lozenge. Yes, gentlemen, the 
words 'I love you!' the oldest legend of all; the refrain, 
'when the morning stars sang together' were presented to 
the plaintiff by a medium so insignificant that there is, hap 
pily, no coin in the republic low enough to represent its 

"I shall prove to you, gentlemen of the jury," said the 
Colonel, solemnly, drawing a Bible from his coat-tail pocket, 
"that the defendant, for the last twelve months, conducted 
an amatory correspondence with the plaintiff by means of 
underlined words of sacred writ and church psalmody, such 
as 'beloved,' 'precious,' and 'dearest,' occasionally appro 
priating whole passages which seemed apposite to his tender 
passion. I shall call your attention to one of them. The 
defendant, while professing to be a total abstainer a man 
who, in my own knowledge, has refused spirituous refresh 
ment as an inordinate weakness of the flesh, with shameless 
hypocrisy underscores with his pencil the following pas 
sage and presents it to the plaintiff. The gentlemen of the 
jury will find it in the Song of Solomon, page 548, chapter 
II, verse 5." After a pause, in which the rapid rustling of 
leaves was heard in the jury-box, Colonel Starbottle de 
claimed in a pleading, stentorian voice, " 'Stay me with 
er flagons, comfort me with er apples for I am er 
sick of love.' Yes, gentlemen! yes, you may well turn 
from those accusing pages and look at the double-faced de 
fendant. He desires to er be 'stayed with flagons'! 
I am not aware, at present, what kind of liquor is habitually 
dispensed at these meetings, and for which the defendant 
so urgently clamored; but it will be my duty before this 
trial is over to discover it, if I have to summon every 


barkeeper in this district. For the moment, I will simply call 
your attention to the quantity. It is not a single drink that 
the defendant asks for not a glass of light and generous 
wine, to be shared with his inamorata but a number of 
flagons or vessels, each possibly holding a pint measure 
for himself!" 

The smile of the audience had become a laugh. The 
Judge looked up warningly, when his eye caught the fact 
that the Colonel had again winced at this mirth. He re 
garded him seriously. Mr. Hotchkiss's counsel had joined 
in the laugh affectedly, but Hotchkiss himself was ashy pale. 
There was also a commotion in the jury-box, a hurried turn 
ing over of leaves, and an excited discussion. 

"The gentlemen of the jury," said the Judge, with offi 
cial gravity, "will please keep order and attend only to the 
speeches of counsel. Any discussion here is irregular and 
premature and must be reserved for the jury-room after 
they have retired." 

The foreman of the jury struggled to his feet. He was 
a powerful man, with a good-humored face, and, in spite of 
his unfelicitous nickname of "The Bone- Breaker," had a 
kindly, simple, but somewhat emotional nature. Neverthe 
less, it appeared as if he were laboring under some powerful 

"Can we ask a question, Judge?" he said, respectfully, 
although his voice had the unmistakable Western-American 
ring in it, as of one who was unconscious that he could be 
addressing any but his peers. 

"Yes," said the Judge, good-humoredly. 

"We're rinding in this yere piece, out of which the Kernel 
hes just bin a-quotin', some language that me and my 
pardners allow hadn't orter to be read out afore a young 
lady in court and we want to know of you ez a fair- 
minded and impartial man ef this is the reg'lar kind 
o' book given to gals and babies down at the meetin'- 

"The jury will please follow the counsel's speech, with 
out comment," said the Judge, briefly, fully aware that the 
defendant's counsel would spring to his feet, as he did 


promptly. "The Court will allow us to explain to the gen 
tlemen that the language they seem to object to has been 
accepted by the best theologians for the last thousand years 
as being purely mystic. As I will explain later, those are 
merely symbols of the Church " 

"Of wot?" interrupted the foreman, in deep scorn. 

"Of the Church!" 

"We ain't askin' any questions o' you and we ain't 
takin' any answers," said the foreman, sitting down 

"I must insist," siad the Judge, sternly, "that the plain 
tiff's counsel be allowed to continue his opening without in 
terruption. You" (to defendant's counsel) "will have your 
opportunity to reply later." 

The counsel sank down in his seat with the bitter convic 
tion that the jury was manifestly against him, and the case 
as good as lost. But his face was scarcely as disturbed as 
his client's, who, in great agitation, had begun to argue with 
him wildly, and was apparently pressing some point against 
the lawyer's vehement opposal. The Colonel's murky eyes 
brightened as he still stood erect with his hand thrust in 
his breast. 

"It -will be put to you, gentlemen, when the counsel on 
the other side refrains from mere interruption and confines 
himself to reply, that my unfortunate client has no action 
no remedy at law because there were no spoken words of 
endearment. But, gentlemen, it will depend upon you to 
say what are and what are not articulate expressions of 
love. We all know that among the lower animals, with 
whom you may possibly be called upon to classify the de 
fendant, there are certain signals more or less harmonious, 
as the case may be. The ass brays, the horse neighs, the 
sheep bleats the feathered denizens of the grove call to 
their mates in more musical roundelays. These are recog 
nized facts, gentlemen, which you yourselves, as dwellers 
among nature in this beautiful land, are all cognizant of. 
They are facts that no one would deny and we should 
have a poor opinion of the ass who, at er such a su 
preme moment, would attempt to suggest that his call was 


unthinking and without significance. But, gentlemen, I 
shall prove to you that such was the foolish, self-convict 
ing custom of the defendant. With the greatest reluctance, 
and the er greatest pain, I succeeded in wresting from 
the maidenly modesty of my fair client the innocent con 
fession that tihe defendant had induced her to correspond 
with him in these methods. Picture to yourself, gentlemen, 
the lonely moonlight road beside the widow's humble cot 
tage. It is a beautiful night, sanctified to the affections, and 
the innocent girl is leaning from her casement. Presently 
there appears upon the road a slinking, stealthy figure the 
defendant, on his way to church. True to the instruction 
she has received from him, her lips part in the musical ut 
terance" (the Colonel lowered his voice in a faint falsetto, 
presumably in fond imitation of his fair client), " 'Kerree!' 
Instantly the night became resonant with the impassioned 
reply" (the Colonel here lifted his voice in stentorian tones), 
" ''Kerrow.' Again, as he passes, rises the soft 'Kerree'; 
again, as his form is lost in the distance, comes back the 
deep 'Kerrow.' " 

A burst of laughter, long, loud, and irrepressible, struck 
the whole courtroom, and before the Judge could lift his 
half-composed face and take his handkerchief from his 
mouth, a faint "Kerree" from some unrecognized obscurity 
of the courtroom was followed by a loud "Kerrow" from 
some opposite locality. "The sheriff will clear the court," 
said the Judge, sternly; but alas, as the embarrassed and 
choking officials rushed hither and thither, a soft "Kerree" 
from the spectators at the window, outside the courthouse, 
was answered by a loud chorus of "Kerrows" from the op 
posite windows, filled with onlookers. Again the laughter 
arose everywhere even the fair plaintiff herself sat con 
vulsed behind her handkerchief. 

The figure of Colonel Starbottle alone remained erect 
white and rigid. And then the Judge, looking up, saw what 
no one else in the court had seen that the Colonel was 
sincere and in earnest; that what he had conceived to be 
the pleader's most perfect acting, and most elaborate irony, 
were the deep, serious, mirthless convictions of a man without 


the least sense of humor. There was a touch of this re 
spect in the Judge's voice as he said to him, gently, "You 
may proceed, Colonel Starbottle." 

"I thank your Honor," said the Colonel, slowly, "for 
recognizing and doing all in your power to prevent an in 
terruption that, during my thirty years' experience at the 
bar, I have never yet been subjected to without the privi 
lege of holding the instigators thereof responsible person 
ally responsible. It is possibly my fault that I have failed, 
oratorically, to convey to the gentlemen of the jury the 
full force and significance of the defendant's signals. I am 
aware that my voice is singularly deficient in producing 
either the dulcet tones of my fair client or the impassioned 
vehemence of the defendant's repose. I will," continued 
the Colonel, with a fatigued but blind fatuity that ignored 
the hurriedly knit brows and warning eyes of the Judge, 
"try again. The note uttered by my client" (lowering his 
voice to the faintest of falsettos) "was 'Kerree'; the re 
sponse was 'Kerrow' " and the Colonel's voice fairly shook 
the dome above him. 

Another uproar of laughter followed this apparently au 
dacious repetition, but was interrupted by an unlooked-for 
incident. The defendant rose abruptly, and tearing himself 
away from the withholding hand and pleading protestations 
of his counsel, absolutely fled from the courtroom, his ap 
pearance outside being recognized by a prolonged "Kerrow" 
from the bystanders, which again and again followed him 
in the distance. In the momentary silence which followed, 
the Colonel's voice was heard saying, "We rest here, your 
Honor," and he sat down. No less white, but more agi 
tated, was the face of the defendant's counsel, who in 
stantly rose. 

"For some unexplained reason, your Honor, my client de 
sires to suspend further proceedings, with a view to effect 
a peaceable compromise with the plaintiff. As he is a man 
of wealth and position, he is able and willing to pay liber 
ally for that privilege. While I, as his counsel, am still 
convinced of his legal irresponsibility, as he has chosen, 
however, to publicly abandon his rights here, I can only ask 

your Honor's permission to suspend further proceedings 
until I can confer with Colonel Starbottle." 

"As far as I can follow the pleadings," said the Judge, 
gravely, "the case seems to be hardly one for litigation, and 
I approve of the defendant's course, while I strongly urge 
the plaintiff to accept it." 

Colonel Starbottle bent over his fair client. Presently 
he rose, unchanged in look or demeanor. "I yield, your 
Honor, to the wishes of my client, and er lady. We ac 

Before the court adjourned that day it was known 
throughout the town that Adoniram K. Hotchkiss had com" 
promised the suit for four thousand dollars and costs. 

Colonel Starbottle had so far recovered his equanimity as 
to strut jauntily towards his office, where he was to meet his 
fair client. He was surprised, however, to find her already 
there, and in company with a somewhat sheepish-looking 
young man a stranger. If the Colonel had any disap 
pointment in meeting a third party to the interview, his 
old-fashioned courtesy did not permit him to show it. He 
bowed graciously, and politely motioned them each to a seat. 

"I reckoned I'd bring Hiram round with me," said the 
young lady, lifting her searching eyes, after a pause, to the 
Colonel's, "though he -was awful shy, and allowed that you 
didn't know him from Adam or even suspected his exist 
ence. But I said, 'That's just where you slip up, Hiram; 
a pow'ful man like the Colonel knows everything and I've 
seen it in his eye.' Lordy!" she continued, with a laugh, 
leaning forward over her parasol, as her eyes again sought the 
Colonel's, "don't you remember when you asked me if I 
loved that old Hotchkiss, and I told you 'That's tellin',' and 
you looked at me, Lordy! I knew then you suspected there 
was a Hiram somewhere as good as if I'd told you. Now, 
you, jest get up, Hiram, and give the Colonel a good hand 
shake. For if it wasn't for him and his searchin' ways, and 
his awful power of language, I wouldn't hev got that four 
thousand dollars out o' that flirty fool Hotchkiss enough 
to buy a farm, so as you and me could get married! That's 
what you owe to him,. Don't stand there like a stuck fool 


starin' at him. He won't eat you though he's killed many 
a better man. Come, have 7 got to do all the kissin'!" 

It is of record that the Colonel bowed so courteously and 
so profoundly that he managed not merely to evade the 
proffered hand of the shy Hiram, but to only lightly touch 
the franker and more impulsive fingertips of the gentle 
Zaidee. "I er offer my sincerest congratulations 
though I think you er overestimate my er powers 
of penetration. Unfortunately, a pressing engagement, 
which may oblige me also to leave town to-night, forbids 
my saying more. I have er left the er business set 
tlement of this er case in the hands of the lawyers who 
do my office-work, and who will show you every attention. 
And now let me wish you a very good afternoon." 

Nevertheless, the Colonel returned to his private room, 
and it was nearly twilight when the faithful Jim entered, 
to find him sitting meditatively before his desk. "To' God! 
Kernel I hope dey ain't nuffin de matter, but you's lookin' 
mightly solemn! I ain't seen you look dat way, Kernel, 
since de day pooh Marse Stryker was fetched home shot 
froo de head." 

"Hand me down the whiskey, Jim," said the Colonel, 
rising slowly. 

The negro flew to the closet joyfully, and brought out the 
bottle. The Colonel poured out a glass of the spirit and 
drank it with his old deliberation. 

"You're quite right, Jim," he said, putting down his glass, 
"but I'm er getting old and somehow I am missing 
poor Stryker damnably!" 


BY O. HENRY (1862-1910) 

WHEN Major Pendleton Talbot, of Mobile, sir, and 
his daughter, Miss Lydia Talbot, came to Washington 
to reside, they selected for a boarding place a house 
that stood fifty yards back from one of the quietest avenues. 
It was an old-fashioned brick building, with a portico upheld 
by tall white pillars. The yard was shaded by stately locusts 
and elms, and a catalpa tree in season rained its pink and 
white blossoms upon the grass. Rows of high box bushes 
lined the fence and walks. It was the Southern style and 
aspect of the place that pleased the eyes of the Talbots. 

In this pleasant private boarding house they engaged 
rooms, including a study for Major Talbot, who was adding 
the finishing chapters to his book, Anecdotes and Reminis 
cences of the Alabama Army, Bench, and Bar. 

Major Talbot was of the old, old South. The present 
day had little interest or excellence in his eyes. His mind 
lived in that period before the Civil War when the Talbots 
owned thousands of acres of fine cotton land and the slaves 
to till them; when the family mansion was the scene of 
princely hospitality, and drew its guests from the aristoc 
racy of the South. Out of that period he had brought all 
its old pride and scruples of honor, an antiquated and 
punctilious politeness, and (you would think) its wardrobe. 

Such clothes were surely never made within fifty years. 
The Major was tall, but whenever he made that wonderful, 
archaic genuflexion he called a bow, the corners of his frock 
coat swept the floor. That garment was a surprise even to 

From The Junior Munsey, February, 1902. Republished in the 
volume, Sixes and Sevens (1911), by O. Henry; copyright, 1911, 
by Doubleday, Page & Co. ; reprinted by their permission. 



Washington, which has long ago ceased to shy at the frocks 
and broad-brimmed hats of Southern Congressmen. One 
of the boarders christened it a "Father Hubbard," and it 
certainly was high in the waist and full in the skirt. 

But the Major, with all his queer clothes, his immense area 
of plaited, raveling shirt bosom, and the little black string 
tie with the bow always slipping on one side, both was 
smiled at and liked in Mrs. Vardeman's select boarding 
house. Some of the young department clerks would often 
"string him," as they called it, getting him started upon the 
subject dearest to him the traditions and history of his 
beloved Southland. During his talks he would quote freely 
from the Anecdotes and Reminiscences. But they were 
very careful not to let him see their designs, for in spite of 
his sixty-eight years he could make the boldest of them 
uncomfortable under the steady regard of his piercing gray 

Miss Lydia was a plump, little old maid of thirty-five, 
with smoothly drawn, tightly twisted hair that made her 
look still older. Old-fashioned, too, she was; but ante 
bellum glory did not radiate from her as it did from the 
Major. She possessed a thrifty common sense, and it was 
she who handled the finances of the family, and met all 
comers when there were bills to pay. The Major regarded 
board bills and wash bills as contemptible nuisances. They 
kept coming in so persistently and so often. Why, the 
Major wanted to know, could they not be filed and paid in 
a lump sum at some convenient period say when the 
Anecdotes and Reminiscences had been published and paid 
for? Miss Lydia would calmly go on with her sewing and 
say, "We'll pay as we go as long as the money lasts, and 
then perhaps they'll have to lump it." 

Most of Mrs. Vardeman's boarders were away during 
the day, being nearly all department clerks and business 
men; but there was one of them who was about the house 
a great deal from morning to night. This was a young 
man named Henry Hopkins Hargraves every one in the 
house addressed him by his full name who was engaged 
at one of the popular vaudeville theaters. Vaudeville has 


risen to such a respectable plane in the last few years, and 
Mr. Hargraves was such a modest and well-mannered person, 
that Mrs. Vardeman could find no objection to enrolling 
him upon her list of boarders. 

At the theater Hargraves was known as an all-round 
dialect comedian, having a large repertoire of German, Irish, 
Swede, and black-face specialties. But Mr. Hargraves was 
ambitious, and often spoke of his great desire to succeed 
in legitimate comedy. 

This young man appeared to conceive a strong fancy for 
Major Talbot. Whenever that gentleman would begin his 
Southern reminiscences, or repeat some of the liveliest of the 
anecdotes, Hargraves could always be found, the most at 
tentive among his listeners. 

For a time the Major showed an inclination to discourage 
the advances of the "play actor," as he privately termed 
him; but soon the young man's agreeable manner and in 
dubitable appreciation of the old gentleman's stories com 
pletely won him over. 

It was not long before the two were like old chums. The 
Major set apart each afternoon to read to him the manu 
script of his book. During the anecdotes Hargraves never 
failed to laugh at exactly the right point. The Major was 
moved to declare to Miss Lydia one day that young Har 
graves possessed remarkable perception and a gratifying 
respect for the old regime. And when it came to talking 
of those old days if Major Talbot liked to talk, Mr. Har 
graves was entranced to listen. 

Like almost all old people who talk of the past, the 
Major loved to linger over details. In describing the splen 
did, almost royal, days of the old planters, he would hesi 
tate until he had recalled the name of the negro who held 
his horse, or the exact date of certain minor happenings, or 
the number of bales of cotton raised in such a year; but 
Hargraves never grew impatient or lost interest. On the 
contrary, he would advance questions on a variety of sub 
jects connected with the life of that time, and he never failed 
co extract ready replies. 

The fox hunts, the 'possum suppers, the hoe-downs and 


jubilees in the negro quarters, the banquets in the plan 
tation-house hall, when invitations went for fifty miles 
around; the occasional feuds with the neighboring gentry; 
the Major's duel with Rathbone Culbertson about Kitty 
Chalmers, who afterward married a Thwaite of South Caro 
lina; and private yacht races for fabulous sums on Mobile 
Bay; the quaint beliefs, improvident habits, and loyal vir 
tues of the old slaves all these were subjects that held both 
the Major and Hargraves absorbed for hours at a time. 

Sometimes, at night, when the young man would be com 
ing upstairs to his room after his turn at the theater was 
over, the Major would appear at the door of his study and 
beckon archly to him. Going in, Hargraves would find a 
little table set with a decanter, sugar bowl, fruit, and a big 
bunch of fresh green mint. 

"It occurred to me," the Major would begin he was al 
ways ceremonious "that perhaps you might have found 
your duties at the at your place of occupation sufficiently 
arduous to enable you, Mr. Hargraves, to appreciate what 
the poet might well have had in his mind when he wrote, 
'tired Nature's sweet restorer' one of our Southern 

It was a fascination to Hargraves to watch him make it. 
He took rank among artists when he began, and he never 
varied the process. With what delicacy he bruised the mint; 
with what exquisite nicety he estimated the ingredients; 
with what solicitous care he capped the compound with the 
scarlet fruit glowing against the dark green fringe! And 
then the hospitality and grace with which he offered it, 
after the selected oat straws had been plunged into its tink 
ling depths! 

After about four months in Washington, Miss Lydia dis 
covered one morning that they were almost without money. 
The Anecdotes and Reminiscences was completed, but 
publishers had not jumped at the collected gems of Ala 
bama sense and wit. The rental of a small house which 
they still owned in Mobile was two months in arrears. Their 
board money for the month would be due in three days. 
Miss Lydia called her father to a consultation. 


"No money?" said he with a surprised look. "It is quite 
annoying to be called on so frequently for these petty sums. 
Really, I 

The Major searched his pockets. He found only a two- 
dollar bill, which he returned to his vest pocket. 

"I must attend to this at once, Lydia," he said. "Kindly 
get me my umbrella and I will go downtown immediately. 
The congressman from our district, General Fulghum, as 
sured me some days ago that he would use his influence to 
get my book published at an early date. I will go to his 
hotel at once and see what arrangement has been made." 

With a sad little smile Miss Lydia watched him button 
his "Father Hubbard" and depart, pausing at the door, as 
he always did, to bow profoundly. 

That evening, at dark, he returned. It seemed that Con 
gressman Fulghum had seen the publisher who had the 
Major's manuscript for reading. That person had said that 
if the anecdotes, etc., were carefully pruned down about 
one-half, in order to eliminate the sectional and class preju 
dice with which the book was dyed from end to end, he 
might consider its publication. 

The Major was in a white heat of anger, but regained his 
equanimity, according to his code of manners, as soon as 
he was in Miss Lydia's presence. 

"We must have money," said Miss Lydia, with a little 
wrinkle above her nose. "Give me the two dollars, and I 
will telegraph to Uncle Ralph for some to-night." 

The Major drew a small envelope from his upper vest 
pocket and tossed it on the table. 

"Perhaps it was injudicious," he said mildly, "but the 
sum was so merely nominal that I bought tickets to the 
theater to-night. It's a new war drama, Lydia. I thought 
you would be pleased to witness its first production in 
Washington. I am told that the South has very fair treat 
ment in the play. I confess I should like to see the per 
formance myself." 

Miss Lydia threw up her hands in silent despair. 

Still, as the tickets were bought, they might as well be 
used. So that evening, as they sat in the theater listening 


to the lively overture, even Miss Lydia was minded to 
relegate their troubles, for the hour, to second place. The 
Major, in spotless linen, with his extraordinary coat show 
ing only where it was closely buttoned, and his white hair 
smoothly roached, looked really fine and distinguished. The 
curtain went up on the first act of A Magnolia Flower, 
revealing a typical Southern plantation scene. Major Tal- 
bot betrayed some interest. 

"Oh, see!" exclaimed Miss Lydia, nudging his arm, and 
pointing to her program. 

The Major put on his glasses and read the line in the cast 
of characters that her fingers indicated. 

Col. Webster Calhoun. . . . Mr. Hopkins Hargraves. 

"It's our Mr. Hargraves," said Miss Lydia. "It must 
be his first appearance in what he calls 'the legitimate.' I'm 
so glad for him." 

Not until the second act did Col. Webster Calhoun ap 
pear upon the stage. When he made his entry Major Tal- 
bot gave an audible sniff, glared at him, and seemed to 
freeze solid. Miss Lydia uttered a little, ambiguous squeak 
and crumpled her program in her hand. For Colonel 
Calhoun was made up as nearly resembling Major Talbot 
as one pea does another. The long, thin white hair, curly 
at the ends, the aristocratic beak of a nose, the crumpled, 
wide, raveling shirt front, the string tie, with the bow nearly 
under one ear, were almost exactly duplicated. And then, 
to clinch the imitation, he wore the twin to the Major's 
supposed to be unparalleled coat. High-collared, baggy, 
empire-waisted, ample-skirted, hanging a foot lower in front 
than behind, the garment could have been designed from no 
other pattern. From then on, the Major and Miss Lydia 
sat bewitched, and saw the counterfeit presentment of a 
haughty Talbot "dragged," as the Major afterward ex 
pressed it, "through the slanderous mire of a corrupt stage." 

Mr. Hargraves had used his opportunities well. He 
had caught the Major's little idiosyncrasies of speech, ac 
cent, and intonation and his pompous courtliness to per 
fection exaggerating all to the purpose of the stage. When 
ke performed that marvelous bow that the Major fondly 


imagined to be the pink of all salutations, the audienca 
sent forth a sudden round of hearty applause. 

Miss Lydia sat immovable, not daring to glance toward 
her father. Sometimes her hand next to him would be laid 
against her cheek, as if to conceal the smile which, in 
spite of her disapproval, sfie could not entirely suppress. 

The culmination of Hargraves' audacious imitation took 
place in the third act. The scene is where Colonel Calhoun 
entertains a few of the neighboring planters in his "den." 

Standing at a table in the center of the stage, with his 
friends grouped about him, he delivers that inimitable, 
rambling character monologue so famous in A Magnolia 
Flower, at the same time that he deftly makes juleps foi 
the party. 

Major Talbot, sitting quietly, but white with indigna 
tion, heard his best stories retold, his pet theories and hol> 
bies advanced and expanded, and the dream of the Anec 
dotes and Reminiscences served, exaggerated and garbled, 
His favorite narrative that of his duel with Rathbone 
Culbertson was not omitted, and it was delivered with 
more fire, egotism, and gusto than the Major himself put 
into it. 

The monologue concluded with a quaint, delicious, witty 
little lecture on the art of concocting a julep, illustrated 
by the act. Here Major Talbot's delicate but showy science 
was reproduced to a hair's breadth from his dainty handling 
of the fragrant weed "the one-thousandth part of a grain 
too much pressure, gentlemen, and you extract the bitter 
ness, instead of the aroma, of this heaven-bestowed plant" 
to his solicitous selection of the oaten straws. 

At the close of the scene the audience raised a tumultu 
ous roar of appreciation. The portrayal of the type was so 
exact, so sure and thorough, that the leading characters in 
the play were forgotten. After repeated calls, Hargraves 
came before the curtain and bowed, his rather boyish face 
bright and flushed with the knowledge of success. 

At last Miss Lydia turned and looked at the Major. His 
thin nostrils were working like the gills of a fish. He laid 
both shaking hands upon the arms of his chair to rise. 


"We will go, Lydia," he said chokingly. "This is an 
abominable desecration." 

Before he could rise, she pulled him back into his seat. 

"We will stay it out," she declared. "Do you want to 
advertise the copy by exhibiting the original coat?" So 
they remained to the end. 

Hargraves's success must have kept him up late that night, 
for neither at the breakfast nor at the dinner table did he 

About three in the afternoon he tapped at the door of 
Major Talbot's study. The Major opened it, and Hargraves 
walked in with his hands full of the morning papers too 
full of his triumph to notice anything unusual in the Major's 

"I put it all over 'em last night, Major," he began ex 
ultantly. "I had my inning, and, I think, scored. Here's 
what The Post says: 

" 'His conception and portrayal of the old-time Southern 
colonel, with his absurd grandiloquence, his eccentric garb, 
his quaint idioms and phrases, his motheaten pride of fam 
ily, and his really kind heart, fastidious sense of honor, 
and lovable simplicity, is the best delineation of a character 
role on the boards to-day. The coat worn by Colonel Cal- 
houn is itself nothing less than an evolution of genius. Mr. 
Hargraves has captured his public.' 

"How does that sound, Major, for a first-nighter?" 

"I had the honor" the Major's voice sounded omi 
nously frigid "of witnessing your very remarkable per 
formance, sir, last night." 

Hargraves looked disconcerted. 

"You were there? I didn't know you ever I didn't know 
you cared for the theater. Oh, I say, Major Talbot," he 
exclaimed frankly, "don't you be offended. I admit I did 
get a lot of pointers from you that helped out wonderfully 
in the part. But it's a type, you know not individual, 
The way the audience caught on shows that. Half the 
patrons of that theater are Southerners. They recognized 

"Mr. Hargraves," said the Major, who had remained 


standing, "you have put upon me an unpardonable insult. 
You have burlesqued my person, grossly betrayed my con 
fidence, and misused my hospitality. If I thought you 
possessed the faintest conception of what is the sign manual 
of a gentleman, or what is due one, I would call you out, 
sir, old as I am. I will ask you to leave the room, sir." 

The actor appeared to be slightly bewildered, and seemed 
hardly to take in the full meaning of the old gentleman's 

"I am truly sorry you took offense," he said regretfully. 
"Up here we don't look at things just as you people do. 
I know men who would buy out half the house to have then 
personality put on the stage so the public would recog 
nize it." 

"They are not from Alabama, sir," said the Major 

"Perhaps not. I have a pretty good memory, Major; 
let me quote a few lines from your book. In response to a 
toast at a banquet given in Milledgeville, I believe you 
uttered, and intend to have printed, these words: 

" 'The Northern man is utterly without sentiment or 
warmth except in so far as the feelings may be turned to 
his own commercial profit. He will suffer without resent 
ment any imputation cast upon the honor of himself or 
his loved ones that does not bear with it the consequence 
of pecuniary loss. In his charity, he gives with a liberal 
hand; but it must be heralded with the trumpet and chroni 
cled in brass.' 

"Do you think that picture is fairer than the one you 
saw of Colonel Calhoun last night?" 

"The description," said the Major, frowning, "is not 
without grounds. Some exag latitude must be allowed in 
public speaking." 

"And in public acting," replied Hargraves. 

"That is not the point," persisted the Major, unrelent 
ing. "It was a personal caricature. I positively decline to 
overlook it, sir." 

"Major Talbot," said Hargraves, with a winning smile, 
"I wish you would understand me. I want you to know 


that I never dreamed of insulting you. In my profession, 
all life belongs to me. I take what I want, and what I can, 
and return it over the footlights. Now, if you will, let's 
let it go at that. I came in to see you about something 
else. We've been pretty good friends for some months, and 
I'm going to take the risk of offending you again. I know 
you are hard up for money never mind how I found out, 
a boarding house is no place to keep such matters secret 
and I want you to let me help you out of the pinch. I've 
been there often enough myself. I've been getting a fair 
salary all the season, and I've saved some money. You're 
welcome to a couple hundred or even more until you 
get " 

"Stop!" commanded the Major, with his arm out 
stretched. "It seems that my book didn't lie, after all. 
You think your money salve will heal all the hurts of 
honor. Under no circumstances would I accept a loan 
from a casual acquaintance; and as to you, sir, I would 
starve before I would consider your insulting offer of a 
financial adjustment of the circumstances we have discussed. 
I beg to repeat my request relative to your quitting the 

Hargraves took his departure without 'another word. He 
also left the house the same day, moving, as Mrs. Vardeman 
explained at the supper table, nearer the vicinity of the 
downtown theater, where A Magnolia Flower was booked 
for a week's run. 

Critical was the situation with Major Talbot and Miss 
Lydia. There was no one in Washington to whom the 
Major's scruples allowed him to apply for a loan. Miss 
Lydia wrote a letter to Uncle Ralph, but it was doubtful 
whether that relative's constricted affairs would permit him 
to furnish help. The Major was forced to make an apolo 
getic address to Mrs. Vardeman regarding the delayed pay 
ment for board, referring to "delinquent rentals" and "de 
layed remittances" in a rather confused strain. 

Deliverance came from an entirely unexpected source. 

Late one afternoon the door maid came up and an 
nounced an old colored man who wanted to see Major 


Talbot. The Major asked that he be sent up to his study. 
Soon an old darkey appeared in the doorway, with his hat 
in hand, bowing, and scraping with one clumsy foot. He 
was quite decently dressed in a baggy suit of black. His 
big, coarse shoes shone with a metallic luster suggestive of 
stove polish. His bushy wool was gray almost white. 
After middle life, it is difficult to estimate the age of a 
negro. This one might have seen as many years as had 
Major Talbot. 

"I be bound you don't know me, Mars' Pendleton," were 
bis first words. 

The Major rose and came forward at the old, familiar 
style of address. It was one of the old plantation darkeys 
without a doubt; but they had been widely scattered, and he 
could not recall the voice or face. 

"I don't believe I do," he said kindly "unless you will 
assist my memory." 

"Don't you 'member Cindy's Mose, Mars' Pendleton, 
what 'migrated 'mediately after de war?" 

"Wait a moment," said the Major, rubbing his forehead 
with the tips of his fingers. He loved to recall everything 
connected with those beloved days. "Cindy's Mose," he 
reflected. "You worked among the horses breaking the 
colts. Yes, I remember now. After the surrender, you took 
the name of don't prompt me Mitchell, and went to the 
West to Nebraska." 

"Yassir, yassir," the old man's face stretched with a de 
lighted grin "dat's him, dat's it. Newbraska. Dat's me 
Mose Mitchell. Old Uncle Mose Mitchell, dey calls me 
now. Old mars', your pa, gimme a pah of dem mule colts 
when I lef fur to staht me goin' with. You 'member dent 
colts, Mars' Pendleton?" 

"I don't seem to recall the colts," said the Major. "You 
know. I was married the first year of the war and living at 
the old Follinsbee place. But sit down, sit down, Uncle 
Mose. I'm glad to see you. I hope you have prospered." 

Uncle Mose took a chair and laid his hat carefully o* 
the floor beside it. 

"Yessir; of late I done mouty femous. When I first 


got to Newbraska, dey folks come all roun' me to see dem 
mule colts. Dey ain't see no mules like dem in Newbraska. 
I sold dem mules for three hundred dollars. Yessir three 

"Den I open a blacksmith shop, suh, and made some 
money and bought some Ian'. Me and my old 'oman done 
raised up seb'm chillun, and all doin' well 'cept two of 'em 
what died. Fo' year ago a railroad come along 'and staht 
a town slam ag'inst my Ian', and, suh, Mars' Pendleton, 
Uncle Mose am worth leb'm thousand dollars in money, 
property, and Ian'." 

"I'm glad to hear it," said the Major heartily. "Glad to 
hear it." 

"And dat little baby of yo'n, Mars' Pendleton one what 
you name Miss Lyddy I be bound dat little tad done 
growed up tell nobody wouldn't know her." 

The Major stepped to the door and called: "Lydie, dear, 
will you come?" 

Miss Lydia, looking quite grown up and a little worried, 
came in from her room. 

"Dar, now! What'd I tell you? I knowed dat baby 
done be plum growed up. You don't 'member Uncle Mose, 

"This is Aunt Cindy's Mose. Lydia," explained the Major. 
"He left Sunnymead for the West when you were two 
years old." 

"Well," said Miss Lydia, "I can hardly be expected to 
remember you, Uncle Mose, at that age. And, as you say, 
I'm 'plum growed up,' and was a blessed long time ago. 
But I'm glad to see you, even if I can't remember you." 

And she was. And so was the Major. Something alive 
and tangible had come to link them with the happy past. 
The three sat and talked over the olden times, the Major 
and Uncle Mose correcting or prompting each other as they 
reviewed the plantation scenes and days. 

The Major inquired what the old man was doing so far 
from his home. 

"Uncle Mose am a delicate," he explained, "to de grand 
Baptis' convention in dis city. I never preached none, but 


bein' a residin' elder in de church, and able fur to pay my 
own expenses, dey sent me along. 1 " 

"And how did you know we were in Washington?" in 
quired Miss Lydia. 

"Dey's a cullud man works in de hotel whar I stops, what 
comes from Mobile. He told me he seen Mars' Pendleton 
comin' outen dish here house one mawnin'. 

"What I come fur," continued Uncle Mose, reaching into 
his pocket "besides de sight of home folks was to pay 
Mars' Pendleton what I owes him. 

"Yessir three hundred dollars." He handed the Major 
a roll of bills. "When I lef old mars' says: 'Take dem 
mule colts, Mose, and, if it be so you gits able, pay fur 'em.' 
Yessir dem was his words. De war had done lef old mars' 
po' hisself. Old mars' bein' long ago dead, de debt descends 
to Mars' Pendleton. Three hundred dollars. Uncle Mose 
is plenty able to pay now. When dat railroad buy my Ian' 
I laid off to pay fur dem mules. Count de money, Mars* 
Pendleton. Dat's what I sold dem mules fur. Yessir." 

Tears were in Major Talbot's eyes. He took Uncle 
Mose's hand and laid his other upon his shoulder. 

"Dear, faithful, old servitor," he said in an unsteady 
voice, "I don't mind saying to you that 'Mars' Pendleton' 
spent his last dollar in the world a week ago. We will ac 
cept this money, Uncle Mose, since, in a way, it is a sort of 
payment, as well as a token of the loyalty and devotion of 
the old regime. Lydia, my dear, take the money. You are 
better fitted than I to manage its expenditure." 

"Take it, honey," said Uncle Mose. "Hit belongs to you. 
Hit's Talbot money." 

After Uncle Mose had gone, Miss Lydia had a good cry 
for joy; and the Major turned his face to a corner, and 
smoked his clay pipe volcanically. 

The succeeding days saw the Talbots restored to peace 
and ease. Miss Lydia's face lost its worried look. The 
major appeared in a new frock coat, in which he looked like 
a wax figure personifying the memory of his golden age. 
Another publisher who read the manuscript of the Anec 
dotes and Reminiscences thought that, with a little re- 


touching and toning down of the high lights, he could make 
a really bright and salable volume of it. Altogether, the 
situation was comfortable, and not without the touch of 
hope that is often sweeter than arrived blessings. 

One day, about a week after their piece of good luck, a 
maid brought a letter for Miss Lydia to her room. The 
postmark showed that it was from New York. Not know 
ing any one there, Miss Lydia, in a mild flutter of won 
der, sat down by her table and opened the letter with her 
scissors. This was what she read: 


I thought you might be glad to learn of my good fortune. I 
have received and accepted an offer of two hundred dollars per 
week by a New York stock company to play Colonel Calhoun 
in A Magnolia Flower. 

There is something else I wanted you to know. I guess you'd 
better not tell Major Talbot. I was anxious to make him some 
amends for the great help he was to me in studying the part, 
and for the bad humor he was in about it. He refused to let 
me, so I did it anyhow. I could easily spare the three hundred. 
Sincerely yours, 

P.S. How did I play Uncle Mose? 

Major Talbot, passing through the hall, saw Miss Lydia's 
door open and stopped. 

"Any mail for us this morning, Lydia, dear?" he asked. 

Miss Lydia slid the letter beneath a fold of her dress. 

"The Mobile Chronicle came," she said promptly. "It's 
<MI the table in your study," 



JUST as the stage rumbled over the rickety old bridge, 
creaking and groaning, the sun came from behind the 
clouds that had frowned all the way, and the passengers 
cheered up a bit. The two richly dressed matrons who had 
been so utterly and unnecessarily oblivious to the presence of 
each other now suspended hostilities for the moment by mu 
tual and unspoken consent, and viewed with relief the little, 
golden-tinted valley and the tree-clad road just beyond. The 
respective husbands of these two ladies exchanged a mere 
glance, no more, of comfort. They, too, were relieved, 
though more by the momentary truce than by anything 
else. They regretted very much to be compelled to hate 
each other, for each had reckoned up his vis-a-vis as a 
rather proper sort of fellow, probably a man of some achieve 
ment, used to good living and good company. 

Extreme iciness was unavoidable between them, however. 
When one stranger has a splendidly preserved blonde wife 
and the other a splendidly preserved brunette wife, both of 
whom have won social prominence by years of hard fighting 
and aloofness, there remains nothing for the two men but to 
follow the lead, especially when directly under the eyes of 
the leaders. 

The son of the blonde matron smiled cheerfully as the 
welcome light flooded the coach. 

He was a nice-looking young man, of about twenty-two, 
one might judge, and he did his smiling, though in a perfectly 

From McClure's Magazine, June, 1905 ; copyright, 1905, by the 
S. S. McClure Co.; republished by the author's permission. 



impersonal and correct sort of manner, at the pretty daugh 
ter of the brunette matron. The pretty daughter also 
smiled, but her smile was demurely directed at the trees out 
side, clad as they were in all the flaming glory of their 
autumn tints, glistening with the recent rain and dripping 
with gems that sparkled and flashed in the noonday sun as 
they fell. 

It is marvelous how much one can see out of the corner 
of the eye, while seeming to view mere scenery. 

The driver looked down, as he drove safely off the bridge, 
and shook his head at the swirl of water that rushed and 
eddied, dark and muddy, close up under the rotten planking; 
then he cracked his whip, and the horses sturdily attacked 
the little hill. 

Thick, overhanging trees on either side now dimmed the 
light again, and the two plump matrons once more glared 
past the opposite shoulders, profoundly unaware of each 
other. The husbands took on the politely surly look re 
quired of them. The blonde son's eyes still sought the 
brunette daughter, but it was furtively done and quite un 
successfully, for the daughter was now doing a little glaring 
on her own account. The blonde matron had just swept 
her eyes across the daughter's skirt, estimating the fit and 
material of it with contempt so artistically veiled that it 
could almost be understood in the dark. 


The big bays swung to the brow of the hill with ease, 
and dashed into a small circular clearing, where a quaint 
little two-story building, with a mossy watering-trough out 
in front, nestled under the shade of majestic old trees that 
reared their brown and scarlet crowns proudly into the sky. 
A long, low porch ran across the front of the structure, and 
a complaining sign hung out announcing, in dim, weather- 
flecked letters on a cracked board, that this was the "Tutt 
House." A gray-headed man, in brown overalls and faded 
blue jumper, stood on the porch and shook his fist at the 
stage as it whirled by. 


"What a delightfully old-fashioned inn!" exclaimed the 
pretty daughter. "How I should like to stop there over 

"You would probably wish yourself away before morning, 
Evelyn," replied her mother indifferently. "No doubt it 
would be a mere siege of discomfort." 

The blonde matron turned to her husband. The pretty 
daughter had been looking at the picturesque "inn" between 
the heads of this lady and her son. 

"Edward, please pull down the shade behind me," she 
directed. "There is quite a draught from that broken win 

The pretty daughter bit her lip. The brunette matron 
continued to stare at the shade in the exact spot upon which 
her gaze had been before directed, and she never quivered 
an eyelash. The young man seemed very uncomfortable, 
and he tried to look his apologies to the pretty daughter, 
but she could not see him now, not even if her eyes had 
been all corners. 

They were bowling along through another avenue of trees 
when the driver suddenly shouted, "Whoa there!" 

The horses were brought up with a jerk that was well 
nigh fatal to the assortment of dignity inside the coach. A 
loud roaring could be heard, both ahead and in the rear, a 
sharp splitting like a fusillade of pistol shots, then a creaking 
and tearing of timbers. The driver bent suddenly forward. 

"Gid ap!" he cried, and the horses sprang forward with a 
lurch. He swung them around a sharp bend with a skillful 
hand and poised his weight above the brake as they plunged 
at terrific speed down a steep grade. The roaring was 
louder than ever now, and it became deafening as they sud 
denly emerged from the thick underbrush at the bottom of 
the declivity. 

"Caught, by gravy!" ejaculated the driver, and, for the 
second time, he brought the coach to an abrupt stop. 

"Do see what is the matter, Ralph," said the blonde ma 
tron impatiently. 

Thus commanded, the young man swung out and asked 
the driver about it. 


"Paintsville dam's busted," he was informed. "I been 
a-lookin' fer it this many a year, an' this here freshet done 
it. You see the holler there? Well, they's ten foot o' 
water in it, an' it had ort to be stone dry. The bridge is 
tore out behind us, an' we're stuck here till that water runs 
out. We can't git away till to-morry, anyways." 

He pointed out the peculiar topography of the place, and 
Ralph got back in the coach. 

"We're practically on a flood-made island," he exclaimed, 
with one eye on the pretty daughter, "and we shall have 
to stop over night at that quaint, old-fashioned inn we passed 
a few moments ago." 

The pretty daughter's eyes twinkled, and he thought he 
caught a swift, direct gleam from under the long lashes 
but he was not sure. 

"Dear me, how annoying," said the blonde matron, but 
the brunette matron still stared, without the slightest trace 
of interest in anything else, at the infinitesimal spot she 
had selected on the affronting window-shade. 

The two men gave sighs of resignation, and cast carefully 
concealed glances at each other, speculating on the possi 
bility of a cigar and a glass, and maybe a good story or 
two, or possibly even a game of poker after the evening 
meal. Who could tell what might or might not happen? 


When the stage drew up in front of the little hotel, it 
found Uncle Billy Tutt prepared for his revenge. In former 
days the stage had always stopped at the Tutt House for 
the noonday meal. Since the new railway was built through 
the adjoining county, however, the stage trip became a 
mere twelve-mile, cross-country transfer from one railroad 
to another, and the stage made a later trip, allowing the 
passengers plenty of time for "dinner" before they started. 
Day after day, as the coach flashed by with its money-laden 
passengers, Uncle Billy had hoped that it would break down. 
But this was better, much better. The coach might be 
quickly mended, but not the flood. 


"I'm a-goin' t' charge 'em till they squeal," he declared 
to the timidly protesting Aunt Margaret, "an' then I'm goin' 
t' charge 'em a least mite more, drat 'em!" 

He retreated behind the rough wooden counter that did 
duty as a desk, slammed open the flimsy, paper-bound 
"cash book" that served as a register, and planted his elbows 
uncompromisingly on either side of it. 

"Let 'em bring in their own traps," he commented, and 
Aunt Margaret fled, ashamed and conscience-smitten, to the 
kitchen. It seemed awful. 

The first one out of the coach was the husband of the 
brunette matron, and, proceeding under instructions, he 
waited neither for luggage nor women folk, but hurried 
straight into the Tutt House. The other man would have 
been neck and neck with him in the race, if it had not been 
that he paused to seize two suitcases and had the misfor 
tune to drop one, which burst open and scattered a choice 
assortment of lingerie from one end of the dingy coach to 
the other. 

In the confusion of rescuing the fluffery, the owner of the 
suitcase had to sacrifice her hauteur and help her husband 
and son block up the aisle, while the other matron had the 
ineffable satisfaction of being kept waiting, at last being 
enabled to say, sweetly and with the most polite consider 
ation : 

"Will you kindly allow me to pass?" 

The blonde matron raised up and swept her skirts back 
perfectly flat. She was pale but collected. Her husband 
was pink but collected. Her son was crimson and uncol- 
lected. The brunette daughter could not have found an eye 
anywhere in his countenance as she rustled out after her 

"I do hope that Belmont has been able to secure choice 
quarters," the triumphing matron remarked as her daughter 
joined her on the ground. "This place looked so very small 
that there can scarcely be more than one comfortable suite 
in it." 

It was a vital thrust. Only a splendidly cultivated self- 
control prevented the blonde matron from retaliating upon 


the unfortunate who had muddled things. Even so, her eyes 
spoke whole shelves of volumes. 

The man who first reached the register wrote, in a straight 
black scrawl, "J. Belmont Van Kamp, wife, and daughter." 
There being no space left for his address, he put none 

"I want three adjoining rooms, en suite if possible," he 

"Three!" exclaimed Uncle Billy, scratching his head. 
"Won't two do ye? I ain't got but six bedrooms in th' 
house. Me an' Marg't sleeps in one, an' we're a-gittin' too 
old fer a shake-down on th' floor. I'll have t' save one 
room fer th' driver, an' that leaves four. You take two 

Mr. Van Kamp cast a hasty glance out of the window. 
The other man was getting out of the coach. His own wife 
was stepping on the porch. 

"What do you ask for meals and lodging until this time 
to-morrow?" he interrupted. 

The decisive moment had arrived. Uncle Billy drew a 
deep breath. 

"Two dollars a head!" he defiantly announced. There! 
It was out! He wished Margaret had stayed to hear him 
say it. 

The guest did not seem to be seriously shocked, and 
Uncle Billy was beginning to be sorry he had not said three 
dollars, when Mr. Van Kamp stopped the landlord's own 

"I'll give you fifteen dollars for the three best rooms in 
the house," he calmly said, and Landlord Tutt gasped as the 
money fluttered down under his nose. 

"Jis' take yore folks right on up, Mr. Kamp," said Uncle 
Billy, pouncing on the money. "Th' rooms is th' three right 
along th' hull front o' th' house. I'll be up and make on a 
fire in a minute. Jis' take th' Jonesmlle Banner an' th' 
Uticky Clarion along with ye." 

As the swish of skirts marked the passage of the Van 
Kamps up the wide hall stairway, the other party swept 
into the room. 


The man wrote, in a round flourish, "Edward Eastman 
Ellsworth, wife, and son." 

"I'd like three choice rooms, en suite," he said. 

"Gosh!" said Uncle Billy, regretfully. "That's what Mr. 
Kamp wanted, fust off, an' he got it. They hain't but th' 
little room over th' kitchen left. I'll have to put you an' 
your wife in that, an' let your boy sleep with th' driver." 

The consternation in the Ellsworth party was past cal 
culating by any known standards of measurement. The 
thing was an outrage! It was not to be borne! They 
would not submit to it! 

Uncle Billy, however, secure in his mastery of the situa 
tion, calmly quartered them as he had said. "An' let 'em 
splutter all they want to," he commented comfortably to 


The Ellsworths were holding a family indignation meeting 
on the broad porch when the Van Kamps came contentedly 
down for a walk, and brushed by them with unseeing eyes. 

"It makes a perfectly fascinating suite," observed Mrs. 
Van Kamp, in a pleasantly conversational tone that could 
be easily overheard by anyone impolite enough to listen. 
"That delightful old-fashioned fireplace hi the middle apart 
ment makes it an ideal sitting-room, and the beds are so 
roomy and comfortable." 

"I just knew it would be like this! " chirruped Miss Evelyn. 
"I remarked as we passed the place, if you will remember, 
how charming it would be to stop in this dear, quaint old 
inn over night. All my wishes seem to come true this 

These simple and, of course, entirely unpremeditated re 
marks were as vinegar and wormwood to Mrs. Ellsworth, 
and she gazed after the retreating Van Kamps with a glint 
in her eye that would make one understand Lucretia Borgia 
at last. 

Her son also gazed after the retreating Van Kamo. She 
had an exquisite figure, and she carried herself with a most 


delectable grace. As the party drew away from the inn she 
dropped behind the elders and wandered off into a side path 
to gather autumn leaves. 

Ralph, too, started off for a walk, but naturally not in 
the same direction. 

"Edward!" suddenly said Mrs. Ellsworth. "I want you 
to turn those people out of that suite before night!" 

"Very well," he replied with a sigh, and got up to do it. 
He had wrecked a railroad and made one, and had operated 
successful corners in nutmegs and chicory. No task seemed 
impossible. He walked in to see the landlord. 

"What are the Van Kamps paying you for those three 
rooms?" he asked. 

"Fifteen dollars," Uncle Billy informed him, smoking one 
of Mr. Van Kamp's good cigars and twiddling his thumbs 
in huge content. 

"I'll give you thirty for them. Just set their baggage 
outside and tell them the rooms are occupied." 

"No sir-ree!" rejoined Uncle Billy. "A bargain's a bar 
gain, an' I allus stick to one I make." 

Mr. Ellsworth withdrew, but not defeated. He had never 
supposed that such an absurd proposition would be accepted. 
It was only a feeler, and he had noticed a wince of regret in 
his landlord. He sat down on the porch and lit a strong 
cigar. His wife did not bother him. She gazed compla 
cently at the flaming foliage opposite, and allowed him to 
think. Getting impossible things was his business in life, 
and she had confidence in him. 

"I want to rent your entire house for a week," he an 
nounced to Uncle Billy a few minutes later. It had occurred 
to him that the flood might last longer than they antici 

Uncle Billy's eyes twinkled. 

"I reckon it kin be did," he allowed. "I reckon a /ro-tel 
man's got a right to rent his hull house ary minute." 

"Of course he has. How much do you want?" 

Uncle Billy had made one mistake in not asking this sort 
of folks enough, and he reflected in perplexity. 

"Make me a offer," he proposed. "Ef it hain't enough 


I'll tell ye. You want to rent th' hull place, back lot an' 

"No, just the mere house. That will be enough," an 
swered the other with a smile. He was on the point of 
offering a hundred dollars, when he saw the little wrinkles 
about Mr. Tutt's eyes, and he said seventy-five. 

"Sho, ye're jokin'!" retorted Uncle Billy. He had been 
considered a fine horse-trader in that part of the country, 
"Make it a hundred and twenty-five, an' I'll go ye." 

Mr. Ellsworth counted out some bills. 

"Here's a hundred," he said. "That ought to be about 

"Fifteen more," insisted Uncle Billy. 

With a little frown of impatience the other counted off 
the extra money and handed it over. Uncle Billy gravely 
handed it back. 

"Them's the fifteen dollars Mr. Kamp give me," he ex 
plained. "You've got the hull house fer a week, an' o' 
course all th' money that's tooken in is your'n. You kin 
do as ye please about rentin' out rooms to other folks, I 
reckon. A bargain's a bargain, an' I allus stick to one I 

Ralph Ellsworth stalked among the trees, feverishly search 
ing for squirrels, scarlet leaves, and the glint of a brown 
walking-dress, this last not being so easy to locate in sunlit 
autumn woods. Time after time he quickened his pace, 
only to find that he had been fooled by a patch of dog 
wood, a clump of haw bushes or even a leaf-strewn knoll, 
but at last he unmistakably saw the dress, and then he 
slowed down to a careless saunter. 

She was reaching up for some brilliantly colored maple 
leaves, and was entirely unconscious of his presence, espe 
cially after she had seen him. Her pose showed her pretty 
figure to advantage, but, of course, she did not know that. 
How should she? 

Ralph admired the picture very much. The hat, the 


hair, the gown, the dainty shoes, even the narrow strip of 
silken hose that was revealed as she stood a- tiptoe, were 
all of a deep, rich brown that proved an exquisite foil for 
the pink and cream of her cheeks. He remembered that 
her eyes were almost the same shade, and wondered how 
it was that women-folk happened on combinations in dress 
that so well set off their natural charms. The fool! 

He was about three trees away, now, and a panic akin to 
that which hunters describe as "buck ague" seized him. He 
decided that he really had no excuse for coming any nearer. 
It would not do, either, to be seen staring at her if she 
should happen to turn her head, so he veered off, intending 
to regain the road. It would be impossible to do this with 
out passing directly in her range of vision, and he did not 
intend to try to avoid it. He had a fine, manly figure of his 

He had just passed the nearest radius to her circle and 
was proceeding along the tangent that he had laid out for 
himself, when the unwitting maid looked carefully down 
and saw a tangle of roots at her very feet. She was so un 
fortunate, a second later, as to slip her foot in this very 
tangle and give her ankle ever so slight a twist. 

"Oh!" cried Miss Van Kamp, and Ralph Ellsworth flew 
to the rescue. He had not been noticing her at all, and yet he 
had started to her side before she had even cried out, which 
was strange. She had a very attractive voice. 

"May I be of assistance?" he anxiously inquired. 

"I think not, thank you," she replied, compressing her lips 
to keep back the intolerable pain, and half-closing her eyes 
to show the fine lashes. Declining the proffered help, she 
extricated her foot, picked up her autumn branches, and 
turned away. She was intensely averse to anything that 
could be construed as a flirtation, even of the mildest, he 
could certainly see that. She took a step, swayed slightly, 
dropped the leaves, and clutched out her hand to him. 

"It is nothing," she assured him in a moment, withdraw 
ing the hand after he had held it quite long enough. "Noth 
ing whatever. I gave my foot a slight wrench, and turned 
the least bit faint for a moment." 


"You must permit me to walk back, at least to the road, 
with you," he insisted, gathering up her armload of branches. 
"I couldn't think of leaving you here alone." 

As he stooped to raise the gay woodland treasures he 
smiled to himself, ever so slightly. This was not his first 
season out, either. 

"Delightful spot, isn't it?" he observed as they regained 
the road and sauntered in the direction of the Tutt House. 

"Quite so," she reservedly answered. She had noticed 
that smile as he stooped. He must be snubbed a little. It 
would be so good for him. 

"You don't happen to know Billy Evans, of Boston, do 
you?" he asked. 

"I think not. I am but very little acquainted in Boston." 

"Too bad," he went on. "I was rather in hopes you 
knew Billy. All sorts of a splendid fellow, and knowr 

"Not quite, it seems," she reminded him, and he winced 
at the error. In spite of the sly smile that he had per 
mitted to himself, he was unusually interested. 

He tried the weather, the flood, the accident, golf, books 
and three good, substantial, warranted jokes, but the con 
versation lagged in spite of him. Miss Van Kamp would 
not for the world have it understood that this unconven 
tional meeting, made allowable by her wrenched ankle, could 
possibly fulfill the functions of a formal introduction. 

"What a ripping, queer old building that is!" he ex 
claimed, making one more brave effort as they came in 
sight of the hotel. 

"It is, rather," she assented. "The rooms in it are as 
quaint and delightful as the exterior, too." 

She looked as harmless and innocent as a basket of peaches 
as she said it, and never the suspicion of a smile deepened 
the dimple in the cheek toward him. The smile was glow 
ing cheerfully away inside, though. He could feel it, if he 
could not see it, and he laughed aloud. 

"Your crowd rather got the better of us there," he ad 
mitted with the keen appreciation of one still quite close 
to college days. 


"Of course, the mater is furious, but I rather look on it 
as a lark." 

She thawed like an April icicle. 

"It's perfectly jolly," she laughed with him. "Awfully 
selfish of us, too, I know, but such loads of fun." 

They were close to the Tutt House now, and her limp, 
that had entirely disappeared as they emerged from the 
woods, now became quite perceptible. There might be 
people looking out of the windows, though it is hard to 
see why that should affect a limp. 

Ralph was delighted to find that a thaw had set in, and 
he made one more attempt to establish at least a proxy ac 

"You don't happen to know Peyson Kingsley, of Phila 
delphia, do you?" 

"I'm afraid I don't," she replied. "I know so few Phila 
delphia people, you see." She was rather regretful about 
it this time. He really was a clever sort of a fellow, in 
spite of that smile. 

The center window in the second floor of the Tutt House 
swung open, its little squares of glass flashing jubilantly in 
the sunlight. Mrs. Ellsworth leaned out over the sill, from 
the quaint old sitting-room of the Van Kamp apartments! 

"Oh, Ralph!" she called in her most dulcet tones. 
"Kindly excuse yourself and come right on up to our suite 
for a few moments!" 


It is not nearly so easy to take a practical joke as to per 
petrate one. Evelyn was sitting thoughtfully on the porch 
when her father and mother returned. Mrs. Ellsworth was 
sitting at the center window above, placidly looking out. 
Her eyes swept carelessly over the Van Kamps, and uncon 
cernedly passed on to the rest of the landscape. 

Mrs. Van Kamp gasped and clutched the arm of her hus 
band. There was no need. He, too, had seen the appari 
tion. Evelyn now, for the first time, saw the real humor 
of the situation. She smiled as she thought of Ralph. She 


owed him one, but she never worried about her debts. She 
always managed to get them paid, principal and interest. 

Mr. Van Kamp suddenly glowered and strode into the 
Tutt House. Uncle Billy met him at the door, reflectively 
chewing a straw, and handed him an envelope. Mr. Van 
Kamp tore it open and drew out a note. Three five-dollar 
bills came out with it and fluttered to the porch floor. This 
missive confronted him: 


DEAR SIR: This is to notify you that I have rented the entire 
Tutt House for the ensuing week, and am compelled to assume 
possession of the three second-floor front rooms. Herewith I 
am enclosing the fifteen dollars you paid to secure the suite. 
You are quite welcome to make use, as my guest, of the small 
room over the kitchen. You will find your luggage in that 
room. Regretting any inconvenience that this transaction may 
cause you, I am, 

Yours respectfully, 


Mr. Van Kamp passed the note to his wife and sat down 
OP a large chair. He was glad that the chair was comfort 
able and roomy. Evelyn picked up the bills and tucked them 
into her waist. She never overlooked any of her perquisites. 
Mrs. Van Kamp read the note, and the tip of her nose 
became white. She also sat down, but she was the first to 
find her voice. 

"Atrocious!" she exclaimed. "Atrocious! Simply atro 
cious, Belmont. This is a house of public entertainment. 
They can't turn us out in this high-minded manner! Isn't 
there a law or something to that effect?" 

"It wouldn't matter if there was," he thoughtfully re 
plied. "This fellow Ellsworth would be too clever to be 
caught by it. He would say that the house was not a 
hotel but a private residence during the period for which 
he has rented it." 

Personally, he rather admired Ellsworth. Seemed to be a 
resourceful sort of chap who knew how to make money be 
have itself, and do its little tricks without balking in the 


"Then you can make him take down the sign!" his wife 

He shook his head decidedly. 

"It wouldn't do, Belle," he replied. "It would be spite, 
not retaliation, and not at all sportsmanlike. The course 
you suggest would belittle us more than it would annoy 
them. There must be some other way." 

He went in to talk with Uncle Billy. 

"I want to buy this place," he stated. "Is it for sale?" 

"It sartin is!" replied Uncle Billy. He did not merely 
twinkle this time. He grinned. 

"How much?" 

"Three thousand dollars." Mr. Tutt was used to charg 
ing by this time, and he betrayed no hesitation. 

"I'll write you out a check at once," and Mr. Van Kamp 
reached in his pocket with the reflection that the spot, after 
all, was an ideal one for a quiet summer retreat. 

"Air you a-goin' t' scribble that there three thou- 
san' on a piece o' paper?" inquired Uncle Billy, sitting 
bolt upright. "Ef you air a-figgerin' on that, Mr. Kamp, 
jis' you save yore time. I give a man four dollars fer one 
o' them check things oncet, an' I owe myself them four 
dollars yit." 

Mr. Van Kamp retired in disorder, but the thought of 
his wife and daughter waiting confidently on the porch 
stopped him. Moreover, the thing had resolved itself rather 
into a contest between Ellsworth and himself, and he had 
done a little making and breaking of men and things in his 
own time. He did some gatling-gun thinking out by the 
newel-post, and presently rejoined Uncle Billy. 

"Mr. Tutt, tell me just exactly what Mr. Ellsworth rented, 
please," he requested. 

"Th' hull house," replied Billy, and then he somewhat 
sternly added: "Paid me spot cash fer it, too." 

Mr. Van Kamp took a wad of loose bills from his trous 
ers pocket, straightened them out leisurely, and placed them 
in his bill book, along with some smooth yellowbacks of eye- 
bulging denominations. Uncle Billy sat up and stopped 
twiddling his thumbs. 


"Nothing was said about the furniture, was there?" 
suavely inquired Van Kamp. 

Uncle Billy leaned blankly back in his chair. Little by 
Jittle the light dawned on the ex-horse-trader. The crow's 
feet reappeared about his eyes, his mouth twitched, he 
smiled, he grinned, then he slapped his thigh and haw- 

"No!" roared Uncle Billy. "No, there wasn't, by gum!" 

"Nothing but the house?" 

"His very own words!" chuckled Uncle Billy. " 'Jis' th' 
mere house,' says he, an' he gits it. A bargain's a bargain, 
an' I allus stick to one I make." 

"How much for the furniture for the week?" 

"Fifty dollars!" Mr. Tutt knew how to do business with 
this kind of people now, you bet. 

Mr. Van Kamp promptly counted out the money. 

"Drat it!" commented Uncle Billy to himself. "I could 
'a' got more!" 

"Now where can we make ourselves comfortable with this 

Uncle Billy chirked up. All was not yet lost. 

"Waal," he reflectively drawled, "there's th' new barn. 
It hain't been used for nothin' yit, senct I built it two years 
ago. I jis' hadn't th' heart t' put th' critters in it as long 
as th' ole one stood up." 

The other smiled at this flashlight on Uncle Billy's char 
acter, and they went out to look at the barn. 


Uncle Billy came back from the "Tutt House Annex," as 
Mr. Van Kamp dubbed the barn, with enough more money 
to make him love all the world until he got used to having 
it. Uncle Billy belongs to a large family. 

Mr. Van Kamp joined the women on the porch, and 
explained the attractively novel situation to them. They 
were chatting gaily when the Ellsworths came down the 
stairs. Mr. Ellsworth paused for a moment to exchange a 
word with Uncle Billy. 


"Mr. Tutt," said he, laughing, "if we go for a bit of 
exercise will you guarantee us the possession of our rooms 
when we come back?" 

"Yes sir-ree!" Uncle Billy assured him. "They shan't 
nobody take them rooms away from you fer money, 
marbles, ner chalk. A bargain's a bargain, an' I allus 
stick to one I make," and he virtuously took a chew of 
tobacco while he inspected the afternoon sky with a clear 

"I want to get some of those splendid autumn leaves to 
decorate our cozy apartments," Mrs. Ellsworth told her 
husband as they passed in hearing of the Van Kamps. "Do 
you know those oldtime rag rugs are the most oddly decora 
tive effects that I have ever seen. They are so rich in color 
and so exquisitely blended." 

There were reasons why this poisoned arrow failed to 
rankle, but the Van Kamps did not trouble to explain. 
They were waiting for Ralph to come out and join his par 
ents. Ralph, it seemed, however, had decided not to take 
a walk. He had already fatigued himself, he had explained, 
and his mother had favored him with a significant look. She 
could readily believe him, she had assured him, and had 
then left him in scorn. 

The Van Kamps went out to consider the arrangement 
of the barn. Evelyn returned first and came out on the 
porch to find a handkerchief. It was not there, but Ralph 
was. She was very much surprised to see him, and she 
intimated as much. 

"It's dreadfully damp in the woods," he explained. "By 
the way, you don't happen to know the Whitleys, of Wash 
ington, do you? Most excellent people." 

"I'm quite sorry that I do not," she replied. "But you 
will have to excuse me. We shall be kept very busy with 
arranging our apartments." 

Ralph sprang to his feet with a ludicrous expression. 

"Not the second floor front suite!" he exclaimed. 

"Oh, no! Not at all," she reassured him. 

He laughed lightly. 

"Honors are about even in that game," he said. 


"Evelyn" called her mother from the hall. "Please come 
and take those front suite curtains down to the barn." 

"Pardon me while we take the next trick," remarked 
Evelyn with a laugh quite as light and gleeful as his own, 
and disappeared into the hall. 

He followed her slowly, and was met at the door by her 

"You are the younger Mr. Ellsworth, I believe," politely 
said Mr. Van Kamp. 

"Ralph Ellsworth. Yes, sir." 

"Here is a note for your father. It is unsealed. You 
are quite at liberty to read it." 

Mr. Van Kamp bowed himself away, and Ralph opened 
the note, which read: 


DEAR SIR : This is to notify you that I have rented the entire 
furniture of the Tutt House for the ensuing week, and am 
compelled to assume possession of that in the three second floor 
front rooms, as well as all the balance not in actual use by Mr. 
and Mrs. Tutt and the driver of the stage. You are quite wel 
come, however, to make use of the furnishings in the small 
room over the kitchen. Your luggage you will find undisturbed. 
Regretting any inconvenience that this transaction may cause 
you, I remain, 

Yours respectfully, 


Ralph scratched his head in amused perplexity. It de 
volved upon him to even up the affair a little before his 
mother came back. He must support the family reputation 
for resourcefulness, but it took quite a bit of scalp irritation 
before he aggravated the right idea into being. As soon 
as the idea came, he went in and made a hide-bound bargain 
with Uncle Billy, then he went out into the hall and waited 
until Evelyn came down with a huge armload of window 

"Honors are still even," he remarked. "I have just bought 
all the edibles about the place, whether in the cellar, the 
house or any of the surrounding structures, in the ground, 
above the ground, dead or alive, and a bargain's a bargain 
as between man and man." 


"Clever of you, I'm sure," commented Miss Van Kamp, 
reflectively. Suddenly her lips parted with a smile that 
revealed a double row of most beautiful teeth. He medi 
tatively watched the curve of her lips. 

"Isn't that rather a heavy load?" he suggested. "I'd be 
delighted to help you move the things, don't you know." 

"It is quite kind of you, and what the men would call 
'game,' I believe, under the circumstances," she answered, 
"but really it will not be necessary. We have hired Mr. 
Tutt and the driver to do the heavier part of the work, and 
the rest of it will be really a pleasant diversion." 

"No doubt," agreed Ralph, with an appreciative grin. 
"By the way, you don't happen to know Maud and Dorothy 
Partridge, of Baltimore, do you? Stunning pretty girls, both 
of them, and no end of swells." 

"I know so very few people in Baltimore," she murmured, 
and tripped on down to the barn. 

Ralph went out on the porch and smoked. There was 
nothing else that he could do. 


It was growing dusk when the elder Ellsworths returned, 
almost hidden by great masses of autumn boughs. 

"You should have been with us, Ralph," enthusiastically 
said his mother. "I never saw such gorgeous tints in all 
my life. We have brought nearly the entire woods with us." 

"It was a good idea," said Ralph. "A stunning good idea. 
They may come in handy to sleep on." 

Mrs. Ellsworth turned cold. 

"What do you mean?" she gasped. 

"Ralph," sternly demanded his father, "you don't mean 
to tell us that you let the Van Kamps jockey us out of 
those rooms after all?" 

"Indeed, no," he airily responded. "Just come right on 
up and see." 

He led the way into the suite and struck a match. One 
solitary candle had been left upon the mantel shelf. Ralph 
thought that this had been overlooked, but his mother after- 


wards set him right about that. Mrs. Van Kamp had 
cleverly left it so that the Ellsworths could see how dread 
fully bare the place was. One candle in three rooms is 
drearier than darkness anyhow. 

Mrs. Ellsworth took in all the desolation, the dismal ex 
panse of the now enormous apartments, the shabby walls, 
the hideous bright spots where pictures had hung, the splint 
ered flooring, the great, gaunt windows and she gave in. 
She had met with snub after snub, and cut after cut, in her 
social climb, she had had the cook quit in the middle of an 
important dinner, she had had every disconcerting thing pos 
sible happen to her, but this this was the last bale of straw. 
She sat down on a suitcase, in the middle of the biggest 
room, and cried! 

Ralph, having waited for this, now told about the food 
transaction, and she hastily pushed the last-coming tear back 
into her eye. 

"Good!" she cried. "They will be up here soon. They 
will be compelled to compromise, and they must not find 
me with red eyes." 

She cast a hasty glance around the room, then, in a sud 
den panic, seized the candle and explored the other two. 
She went wildly out into the hall, back into the little room 
over the kitchen, downstairs, everywhere, and returned in 

"There's not a single mirror left in the house! " she moaned. 

Ralph heartlessly grinned. He could appreciate that this 
was a characteristic woman trick, and wondered admiringly 
whether Evelyn or her mother had thought of it. However, 
this was a time for action. 

"I'll get you some water to bathe your eyes," he offered, 
and ran into the little room over the kitchen to get a pitcher. 
A cracked shaving-mug was the only vessel that had been 
left, but he hurried down into the yard with it. This was 
no time for fastidiousness. 

He had barely creaked the pump handle when Mr. Van 
Kamp hurried up from the barn. 

"I beg your pardon, sir," said Mr. Van Kamp, "but this 
v/ater belongs to us. My daughter bought it, all that is in 


the ground, above the ground, or that may fall from the 
sky upon these premises." 


The mutual siege lasted until after seven o'clock, but it 
was rather one-sided. The Van Kamps could drink all the 
water they liked, it made them no hungrier. If the Ells 
worths ate anything, however, they grew thirstier, and, more 
over, water was necessary if anything worth while was to 
be cooked. They knew all this, and resisted until Mrs. 
Ellsworth was tempted and fell. She ate a sandwich and 
choked. It was heartbreaking, but Ralph had to be sent 
down with a plate of sandwiches and an offer to trade them 
for water. 

Halfway between the pump and the house he met Evelyn 
coming with a small pail of the precious fluid. They both 
stopped stock still; then, seeing that it was too late to 
retreat, both laughed and advanced. 

"Who wins now?" bantered Ralph as they made the ex 

"It looks to me like a misdeal," she gaily replied, and 
was moving away when he called her back. 

"You don't happen to know the Gately's, of New York, 
do you?" he was quite anxious to know. 

"I am truly sorry, but I am acquainted with so few 
people in New York. We are from Chicago, you 

"Oh," said he blankly, and topk the water up to the Ells 
worth suite. 

Mrs. Ellsworth cheered up considerably when she heard 
that Ralph had been met halfway, but her eyes snapped 
when he confessed that it was Miss Van Kamp who had 
met him. 

"I hope you are not going to carry on a flirtation with 
that overdressed creature," she blazed. 

"Why mother," exclaimed Ralph, shocked beyond meas 
ure. "What right have you to accuse either this young lady 
or myself of flirting? Flirting!" 


Mrs. Ellsworth suddenly attacked the fire with quite un 
necessary energy. 


Down at the barn, the wide threshing floor had been cov 
ered with gay rag-rugs, and strewn with tables, couches, and 
chairs in picturesque profusion. Roomy box-stalls had been 
carpeted deep with clean straw, curtained off with gaudy 
bed-quilts, and converted into cozy sleeping apartments. The 
mow and the stalls had been screened off with lace curtains 
and blazing counterpanes, and the whole effect was one of 
Oriental luxury and splendor. Alas, it was only an "effect"! 
The red-hot parlor stove smoked abominably, the pipe car 
ried other smoke out through the hawmow window, only to 
let it blow back again. Chill cross-draughts whistled in 
from cracks too numerous to be stopped up, and the miser 
able Van Kamps could only cough and shiver, and envy the 
Tutts and the driver, non-combatants who had been fed two 
hours before. 

Up in the second floor suite there was a roaring fire in 
the big fireplace, but there was a chill in the room that no 
mere fire could drive away the chill of absolute emptiness. 

A man can outlive hardships that would kill a woman, 
but a woman can endure discomforts that would drive a man 

Mr. Ellsworth went out to hunt up Uncle Billy, with 
an especial solace in mind. The landlord was not in the 
house, but the yellow gleam of a lantern revealed his pres 
ence in the woodshed, and Mr. Ellsworth stepped in upon 
him just as he was pouring something yellow and clear into 
a tumbler from a big jug that he had just taken from under 
the flooring. 

"How much do you want for that jug and its contents?" 
he asked, with a sigh of gratitude that this supply had been 

Before Mr. Tutt could answer, Mr. Van Kamp hurried in 
at the door. 

"Wait a moment!" he cried. "I want to bid on that!" 


"This here jug hain't fer sale at no price," Uncle Billy 
emphatically announced, nipping all negotiations right in 
the bud. "It's too pesky hard to sneak this here licker in 
past Marge't, but I reckon it's my treat, gents. Ye kin 
have all ye want." 

One minute later Mr. Van Kamp and Mr. Ellsworth were 
seated, one on a sawbuck and the other on a nail-keg, com 
fortably eyeing each other across the work bench, and each 
was holding up a tumbler one-third filled with the golden 
yellow liquid. 

"Your health, sir," courteously proposed Mr. Ellsworth. 

"And to you, sir," gravely replied Mr. Van Kamp. 


Ralph and Evelyn happened to meet at the pump, quite 
accidentally, after the former had made half a dozen five- 
minute-apart trips for a drink. It was Miss Van Kamp, 
this time, who had been studying on the mutual acquaint 
ance problem. 

"You don't happen to know the Tylers, of Parkersburg, 
do you?" she asked. 

"The Tylers! I should say I do!" was the unexpected 
and enthusiastic reply. "Why, we are on our way now to 
Miss Georgiana Tyler's wedding to my friend Jimmy Cars- 
ton. I'm to be best man." 

"How delightful!" she exclaimed. "We are on the way 
there, too. Georgiana was my dearest chum at school, and 
I am to be her 'best girl.' " 

"Let's go around on the porch and sit down," said Ralph. 


Mr. Van Kamp, back in the woodshed, looked about him 
with an eye of content. 

"Rather cozy for a woodshed," he observed. "I wonder 
if we couldn't scare up a little session of dollar limit?" 

Both Uncle Billy and Mr. Ellsworth were willing. Death 
and poker level all Americans. A fourth hand was needed, 


however. The stage driver was in bed and asleep, and Mr. 
Ellsworth volunteered to find the extra player. 

"I'll get Ralph," he said. "He plays a fairly stiff game." 

He finally found his son on the porch, apparently alone, 
and stated his errand. 

"Thank you, but I don't believe I care to play this eve 
ning," was the astounding reply, and Mr. Ellsworth looked 
closer. He made out, then, a dim figure on the other side 
of Ralph. 

"Oh! Of course not!" he blundered, and went back to 
the woodshed. 

Three-handed poker is a miserable game, and it seldom 
lasts long. It did not in this case. After Uncle Billy had 
won the only jack-pot deserving of the name, he was al 
lowed to go blissfully to sleep with his hand on the handle 
of the big jug. 

After poker there is only one other always available amuse 
ment for men, and that is business. The two travelers were 
quite well acquainted when Ralph put his head in at the 

"Thought I'd find you here," he explained. "It just oc 
curred to me to wonder whether you gentlemen had dis 
covered, as yet, that we are all to be house guests at the 
Carston-Tyler wedding." 

"Why, no!" exclaimed his father in pleased surprise. "It 
is a most agreeable coincidence. Mr. Van Kamp, allow me 
to introduce my son, Ralph. Mr. Van Kamp and myself, 
Ralph, have found out that we shall be considerably thrown 
together in a business way from now on. He has just pur 
chased control of the Metropolitan and Western string of 

"Delighted, I'm sure," murmured Ralph, shaking hands, 
and then he slipped out as quickly as possible. Some one 
seemed to be waiting for him. 

Perhaps another twenty minutes had passed, when one of 
the men had an illuminating idea that resulted, later on, in 
pleasant relations for all of them. It was about time, for 
Mrs. Ellsworth, up in the bare suite, and Mrs. Van Kamp, 
down in the draughty barn, both wrapped up to the chin 


and both still chilly, had about reached the limit of pa 
tience and endurance. 

"Why can't we make things a little more comfortable for 
all concerned?" suggested Mr. Van Kamp. "Suppose, as a 
starter, that we have Mrs. Van Kamp give a shiver party 
down in the bam?" 

"Good idea," agreed Mr. Ellsworth. "A little diplomacy 
will do it. Each one of us will have to tell his wife that the 
other fellow made the first abject overtures." 

Mr. Van Kamp grinned understandingly, and agreed to 
the infamous ruse. 

"By the way," continued Mr. Ellsworth, with a still hap 
pier thought, "you must allow Mrs. Ellsworth to furnish the 
dinner for Mrs. Van Kamp's shiver party." 

"Dinner!" gasped Mr. Van Kamp. "By all means!" 

Both men felt an anxious yawning in the region of the 
appetite, and a yearning moisture wetted their tongues. They 
looked at the slumbering Uncle Billy and decided to see Mrs. 
Tutt themselves about a good, hot dinner for six. 

"Law me!" exclaimed Aunt Margaret when they appeared 
at the kitchen door. "I swan I thought you folks Vd never 
come to yore senses. Here I've had a big pot o' stewed 
chicken ready on the stove fer two mortal hours. I kin 
give ye that, an' smashed taters an' chicken gravy, an' dried 
corn, an' hot corn-pone, an' currant jell, an' strawberry pre 
serves, an' my own cannin' o' peaches, an' pumpkin-pie an' 
coffee. Will that do ye?" Would it do! Would it do!! 

As Aunt Margaret talked, the kitchen door swung wide, 
and the two men were stricken speechless with astonishment. 
There, across from each other at the kitchen table, sat the 
utterly selfish and traitorous younger members of the rival 
houses of Ellsworth and Van Kamp, deep in the joys of 
chicken, and mashed potatoes, and gravy, and hot corn- 
pone, and all the other "fixings," laughing and chatting 
gaily like chums of years' standing. They had seemingly 
just come to an agreement about something or other, for 
Evelyn, waving the shorter end of a broken wishbone, was 
vivaciously saying to Ralph: 

"A bargain's a bargain, and I always stick to one I make." 



A BOY in an unnaturally clean, country-laundered collar 
walked down a long white road. He scuffed the dust 
up wantonly, for he wished to veil the all-too-brilliant 
polish of his cowhide shoes. Also the memory of the white 
ness and slipperiness of his collar oppressed him. He was 
fain to look like one accustomed to social diversions, a man 
hurried from hall to hall of pleasure, without time between 
to change collar or polish boot. He stooped and rubbed 
a crumb of earth on his overfresh neck-linen. 

This did not long sustain his drooping spirit. He was 
mentally adrift upon the Hints and Helps to Young Men in 
Business and Social Relations, which had suggested to him 
his present enterprise, when the appearance of a second 
youth, taller and broader than himself, with a shock of 
light curling hair and a crop of freckles that advertised a 
rich soil threw him a lifeline. He put his thumbs to his 
lips and whistled in a peculiarly ear-splitting way. The 
two boys had sat on the same bench at Sunday-school not 
three hours before; yet what a change had come over the 
world for one of them since then! 

"Hello! Where you goin', Ab?" asked the newcomer, 

"Callin'," replied the boy in the collar, laconically, but 
with carefully averted gaze. 

"On the girls?" inquired the other, awestruck. In Mount 
Pisgah you saw the girls home from night church, socials, 
or parties; you could hang over the gate; and you might 

From Harper's Magazine, August, 1906. Copyright, 1906, by 
Harper & Brothers. Republished by the author's permission. 



walk with a girl in the cemetery of a Sunday afternoon; 
but to ring a front-door bell and ask for Miss Heart's De 
sire one must have been in long trousers at least three years 
and the two boys confronted in the dusty road had worn 
these dignifying garments barely six months. 

"Girls," said Abner, loftily; "I don't know about girls 
I'm just going to call on one girl Champe Claiborne." 
He marched on as though the conversation was at an end; 
but Ross hung upon his flank. Ross and Champe were 
neighbors, comrades in all sorts of mischief; he was in 
doubt whether to halt Abner and pummel him, or pro 
pose to enlist under his banner. 

"Do you reckon you could?" he debated, trotting along 
by the irresponsive Jilton boy. 

"Run home to your mother," growled the originator of 
the plan, savagely. "You ain't old enough to call on girls; 
anybody can see that; but I am, and I'm going to call on 
Champe Claiborne." 

Again the name acted as a spur on Ross. "With your 
collar and boots all dirty?" he jeered. "They won't know 
you're callin'." 

The boy in the road stopped short in his dusty tracks. 
He was an intense creature, and he whitened at the tragic 
insinuation, longing for the wholesome stay and companion 
ship of freckle-faced Ross. "I put the dirt on o' purpose 
so's to look kind of careless," he half whispered, in an agony 
of doubt. "S'pose I'd better go into your house and try to 
wash it off? Reckon your mother would let me?" 

"I've got two clean collars," announced the other boy, 
proudly generous. "I'll lend you one. You can put it on 
while I'm getting ready. I'll tell mother that we're just 
stepping out to do a little calling on the girls." 

Here was an ally worthy of the cause. Abner welcomed 
him, in spite of certain jealous twinges. He reflected with 
satisfaction that there were two Claiborne girls, and though 
Alicia was so stiff and prim that no boy would ever think 
of calling on her, there was still the hope that she might 
draw Ross's fire, and leave him, Abner, to make the num 
erous remarks he had stored up in his mind from Hints and 

A CALI 239 

Helps to Young Men in Social and Business Relations to 
Champe alone. 

Mrs. Pryor received them with the easy-going kindness 
of the mother of one son. She followed them into the din 
ing-room to kiss and feed him, with an absent "Howdy, Ab- 
ner; how's your mother?" 

Abner, big with the importance of their mutual intention, 
inclined his head stiffly and looked toward Ross for ex 
planation. He trembled a little, but it was with delight, 
as he anticipated the effect of the speech Ross had outlined. 
But it did not come. 

"I'm not hungry, mother," was the revised edition which 
the freckle-faced boy offered to the maternal ear. "I we 
are going over to Mr. Claiborne's on er on an errand 
for Abner's father." 

The black-eyed boy looked reproach as they clattered up 
the stairs to Ross's room, where the clean collar was pro 
duced and a small stock of ties. 

"You'd wear a necktie wouldn't you?" Ross asked, 
spreading them upon the bureau- top. 

"Yes. But make it fall carelessly over your shirt-front/' 
advised the student of Hints and Helps. "Your collar is 
miles too big for me. Say! I've got a wad of white chewing- 
gum; would you flat it out and stick it over the collar but 
ton? Maybe that would fill up some. You kick my foot if 
you see me turning my head so's to knock it off." 

"Better button up your vest," cautioned Ross, laboring 
with the "careless" fall of his tie. 

"Huh-uh! I want 'that easy air which presupposes fa 
miliarity with society' that's what it says in my book," 
objected Abner. 

"Sure!" Ross returned to his more familiar jeering atti 
tude. "Loosen up all your clothes, then. Why don't you 
untie your shoes? Flop a sock down over one of 'em that 
looks 'easy' all right." 

Abner buttoned his vest. "It gives a man lots of con 
fidence to know he's good-looking," he remarked, taking all 
the room in front of the mirror. 

Ross, at the wash-stand soaking his hair to get the curl 


out of it, grumbled some unintelligible response. The two 
boys went down the stairs with tremulous hearts. 

"Why, you've put on another clean shirt, Rossie!" Mrs. 
Pryor called from her chair mothers' eyes can see so far! 
"Well don't get into any dirty play and soil it." The 
boys walked in silence but it was a pregnant silence; for 
as the roof of the Claiborne house began to peer above the 
crest of the hill, Ross plumped down on a stone and an 
nounced, "I ain't goin'." 

"Come on," urged the black-eyed boy. "It'll be fun 
and everybody will respect us more. Champe won't throw 
rocks at us hi recess-time, after we've called on her. She 

"Called!" grunted Ross. "I couldn't make a call any 
more than a cow. What'd I say? What'd I do? I can 
behave all right when you just go to people's houses but 
a call!" 

Abner hesitated. Should he give away his brilliant in 
side information, drawn from the Hints and Helps book, 
and be rivalled in the glory of his manners and bearing? 
Why should he not pass on alone, perfectly composed, and 
reap the field of glory unsupported? His knees gave way 
and he sat down without intending it. 

"Don't you tell anybody and I'll put you on to exactly 
what grown-up gentlemen say and do when they go calling 
on the girls," he began. 

"Fire away," retorted Ross, gloomily. "Nobody will find 
out from me. Dead men tell no tales. If I'm fool enough 
to go, I don't expect to come out of it alive." 

Abner rose, white and shaking, and thrusting three fingers 
into the buttoning of his vest, extending the other hand like 
an orator, proceeded to instruct the freckled, perspiring dis 
ciple at his feet: 

" 'Hang your hat on the rack, or give it to a servant.' " 

Ross nodded intelligently. He could do that. 

" 'Let your legs be gracefully disposed, one hand on the 
knee, the other ' " 

Abner came to an unhappy pause. "I forget what a fel 
low does with the other hand. Might stick it in your pocket, 

A CALL 241 

I reckon. 'Do not saw the air -with gestures, or laugh 
loudly, or expectorate on the carpet. Indulge in little friv 
olity. Let a rich stream of conversation flow.' " 

Ross mentally dug within himself for sources of rich 
streams of conversation. He found a dry soil. "What you 
goin' to talk about?" he demanded, fretfully. "I won't go 
a step farther till I know what I'm goin' to say when I 
get there." 

Abner began to repeat paragraphs from Hints and Helps. 
" 'It is best to remark,' " he opened, in an unnatural voice, 
"'"How well you are looking!" although fulsome compli 
ments should be avoided. When seated ask the young lady 
who her favorite composer is.' " 

"What's a composer?" inquired Ross, with visions of 
soothing-syrup in his mind. 

"A man that makes up music. Don't butt in that way; 
you put me all out 'composer is. Name yours. Ask her 
what piece of music she likes best. Name yours. If the 
lady is musical, here ask her to play or sing.' " 

This chanted recitation seemed to have a hypnotic effect 
on the freckled boy; his big pupils contracted each time 
Abner came to the repetend, "Name yours." 

"I'm tired already," he grumbled; but some spell made 
him rise and fare farther. 

When they had entered the Qaiborne gate, they leaned 
toward each other like young saplings weakened at the root 
and locking branches to keep what shallow foothold on earth 

"You're goin' in first," asserted Ross, but without convic 
tion. It was his custom to tear up to this house a dozen 
times a week, on his father's old horse or afoot; he was 
wont to yell for Champe as he approached, and quarrel 
joyously with her while he performed such errand as he had 
come upon; but he was gagged and hamstrung now by the 
hypnotism of Abner's scheme. 

* 'Walk quietly up the steps; ring the bell and lay yoair 
card on the servant,' " quoted Abner, who had never heard 
of a server. 

" 'Lay your card on the servant!' " echoed Ross. "Cady'd 


dodge. There's a porch to cross after you go up the steps 
does it say anything about that?" 

"It says that the card should be placed on the servant," 
Abner reiterated, doggedly. "If Cady dodges, it ain't any 
business of mine. There are no porches in my book. Just 
walk across it like anybody. We'll ask for Miss Champe 

"We haven't got any cards," discovered Ross, with hope. 

"I have," announced Abner, pompously. "I had some 
struck off in Chicago. I ordered 'em by mail. They got 
my name Pillow, but there's a scalloped gilt border around 
it. You can write your name on my card. Got a pencil?" 

He produced the bit of cardboard; Ross fished up a 
chewed stump of lead pencil, took it in cold, stiff fingers, 
and disfigured the square with eccentric scribblings. 

"They'll know who it's meant for," he said, apologeti 
cally, "because I'm here. What's likely to happen after 
we get rid of the card?" 

"I told you about hanging your hat on the rack and dis 
posing your legs." 

"I remember now," sighed Ross. They had been going 
slower and slower. The angle of inclination toward each 
other became more and more pronounced. 

"We must stand by each other," whispered Abner. 

"I will if I can stand at all," murmured the other boy, 

"Oh, Lord!" They had rounded the big clump of ever 
greens and found Aunt Missouri Claiborne placidly rocking 
on the front porch! Directed to mount steps and ring bell, 
to lay cards upon the servant, how should one deal with a 
rosy-faced, plump lady of uncertain years in a rocking- 
chair^ What should a caller lay upon her? A lion in the 
way could not have been more terrifying. Even retreat 
was cut off. Aunt Missouri had seen them. "Howdy, boys; 
how are you?" she said, rocking peacefully. The two stood 
before her like detected criminals. 

Then, to Ross's dismay, Abner sank down on the lowest 
step of the porch, the westering sun full in his hopeless eyes. 
He sat on his cap. It was characteristic that die freckled 

A CALL 243 

boy remained standing. He would walk up those steps 
according to plan 'and agreement, if at all. He accepted 
no compromise. Folding his straw hat into a battered cone, 
he watched anxiouslly for the delivery of the card. He 
was not sure what Aunt Missouri's attitude might be if it 
were laid on her. He bent down to his companion. "Go 
ahead," he whispered. "Lay the card." 

Abner raised appealing eyes. "In a minute. Give me 
time," he pleaded. 

"Mars' Ross Mars' Ross! Head 'em off!" sounded a 
yell, and Babe, the house-boy, came around the porch in 
pursuit of two half-grown chickens. 

"Help him, Rossie," prompted Aunt Missouri, sharply. 
"You boys can stay to supper and have some of the chicken 
if you help catch them." 

Had Ross taken time to think, he might have reflected 
that gentlemen making formal calls seldom join in a chase 
after the main dish of the family supper. But the needs of 
Babe were instant. The lad flung himself sidewise, caught 
one chicken in his hat, while Babe fell upon the other in the 
manner of a football player. Ross handed the pullet to the 
house-boy, fearing that he had done something very much 
out of character, then pulled the reluctant negro toward to 
the steps. 

"Babe's a servant," he whispered to Abner, who had sat 
rigid through the entire performance. "I helped him with 
the chickens, and he's got to stand gentle while you lay 
the card on." 

Confronted by the act itself, Abner was suddenly aware 
that he knew not how to begin. He took refuge in dis 

"Hush!" he whispered back. "Don't you see Mr. Clai- 
borne's come out? He's going to read something to us." 

Ross plumped down beside him. "Never mind the card; 
tell 'em," he urged. 

"Tell 'em yourself." 

"No let's cut and run." 

"I I think the worst of it is over. When Ghampe sees 
us she'll" 


Mention of Champe stiffened Ross's spine. If it had 
been glorious to call upon her, how very terrible she would 
make it should they attempt calling, fail, and the failure 
come to her knowledge! Some things were easier to en 
dure than others; he resolved to stay till the call was made. 

For half an hour the boys sat with drooping heads, and 
the old gentleman read aloud, presumably to Aunt Missouri 
and themselves. Finally their restless eyes discerned the 
two Claiborne girls walking serene in Sunday trim under 
the trees at the edge of the lawn. Arms entwined, they were 
whispering together and giggling a little. A caller, Ross 
dared not use his voice to shout nor his legs to run toward 

"Why don't you go and talk to the girls, Rossie?" Aunt 
Missouri asked, in the kindness of her heart. "Don't be 
noisy it's Sunday, you know and don't get to playing 
anything that'll dirty up your good clothes." 

Ross pressed his lips hard together; his heart swelled 
with the rage of the misunderstood. Had the card been in 
his possession, he would, at that instant, have laid it on 
Aunt Missouri without a qualm. 

"What is it?" demanded the old gentleman, a bit testily. 

"The girls want to hear you read, father," said Aunt 
Missouri, shrewdly; and she got up and trotted on short, 
fat ankles to the girls in the arbor. The three returned 
together, Alicia casting curious glances at the uncomfortable 
youths, Champe threatening to burst into giggles with every 

Abner sat hard on his cap and blushed silently. Ross 
twisted his hat into a three-cornered wreck. 

The two girls settled themselves noisily on the upper 
step. The old man read on and on. The sun sank lower. 
The hills were red in the west as though a brush fire flamed 
behind their crests. Abner stole a furtive glance at his 
companion in misery, and the dolor of Ross's countenance 
somewhat assuaged his anguish. The freckle-faced boy was 
thinking of the village over the hill, a certain pleasant white 
house set back hi a green yard, past whose gate the two- 
plank sidewalk ran. He knew lamps were beginning to wink 

A CALL 245 

in the windows of the neighbors about, as though the houses 
said, "Our boys are all at home but Ross Pryor's out trying 
to call on the girls, and can't get anybody to understand 
it." Oh, that he were walking down those two planks, draw 
ing a stick across the pickets, lifting high happy feet which 
could turn in at that gate! He wouldn't care what the 
lamps said then. He wouldn't even mind if the whole Clai- 
borne family died laughing at him if only some power 
would raise him up from this paralyzing spot and put him 
behind the safe barriers of his own home! 

The old man's voice lapsed into silence; the light was 
becoming too dim for his reading. Aunt Missouri turned 
and called over her shoulder into the shadows of the big 
hall: "You Babe! Go put two extra plates on the supper- 

The boys grew red from the tips of their ears, and as far 
as any one could see under their wilting collars. Abner 
felt the lump of gum come loose and slip down a cold spine. 
Had their intentions but been known, this inferential in 
vitation would have been most welcome. It was but to rise 
up and thunder out, "We came to call on the young ladies." 

They did not rise. They did not thunder out anything. 
Babe brought a lamp and set it inside the window, and Mr. 
Claiborne resumed his reading. Champe giggled and said 
that Alicia made her. Alcia drew her skirts about her, 
sniffed, and looked virtuous, and said she didn't see any 
thing funny to laugh at. The supper-bell rang. The fam 
ily, evidently taking it for granted that 'the boys would fol 
low, went in. 

Alone for the first time, Abner gave up. "This ain't any 
use," he complained. "We ain't calling on anybody." 

"Why didn't you lay on the card?" demanded Ross, 
fiercely. "Why didn't you say: 'We've-just-dropped-into- 
call-on-Miss-Champe. It's-a-pleasant-evening. We-feel- 
we-must-be-going,' like you said you would? Then we 
could have lifted our hats and got away decently." 

Abner showed no resentment. 

"Oh, if it's so easy, why didn't you do it yourself?" he 


"Somebody's coming," Ross muttered, hoarsely. "Say it 
now. Say it quick." 

The somebody proved to be Aunt Missouri, who advanced 
only as far as the end of the hall and shouted cheerfully: 
"The idea of a growing boy not coming to meals when the 
bell rings! I though you two would be in there ahead of 
us. Come on." And cMnging to their head-coverings as 
though these contained some charm whereby the owners 
might be rescued, the unhappy callers were herded into the 
dining-room. There were many things on the table that 
boys like. Both were becoming fairly cheerful, when Aunt 
Missouri checked the biscuit-plate with: "I treat my neigh 
bors' children just like I'd want children of my own treated. 
If your mothers let you eat all you want, say so, and I don't 
care; but if either of them is a little bit particular, why, 
I'd stop at six!" 

Still reeling from this blow, the boys finally rose from the 
table and passed out with the family, their hats clutched 
to their bosoms, and clinging together for mutual aid and 
comfort. During the usual Sunday-evening singing Champe 
laughed till Aunt Missouri threatened to send her to bed. 
Abner's card slipped from his hand and dropped face up on 
the floor. He fell upon it and tore it into infinitesimal 

"That must have been a love-letter," said Aunt Missouri, 
in a pause of the music. "You boys are getting 'most old 
enough to think about beginning to call on the girls." Her 
eyes twinkled. 

Ross growled like a stoned cur. Abner took a sudden 
dive into Hints and Helps, and came up with, "You flatter 
us, Miss Claiborne," whereat Ross snickered out like a 
human boy. They all stared at him. 

"It sounds so funny to call Aunt Missouri 'Mis' Clai 
borne,' " the lad of the freckles explained. 

"Funny?" Aunt Missouri reddened. "I don't see any 
particular joke in my having my maiden name." 

Abner, who instantly guessed at what was in Ross's mind, 
turned white at the thought of what they had escaped. Sup 
pose he had laid on the card and asked for Miss Claiborne! 

A CALL 247 

"What's the matter, Champe?" inquired Ross, in a fairly 
natural tone. The air he had drawn into his lungs when he 
laughed at Abner seemed to relieve him from the numbing 
gentility which had bound his powers since he joined Ab- 
ner's ranks. 

"Nothing. I laughed because you laughed," said the girl. 

The singing went forward fitfully. Servants traipsed 
through the darkened yard, going home for Sunday night. 
Aunt Missouri went out and held some low-toned parley 
with them. Champe yawned with insulting enthusiasm. 
Presently both girls quietly disappeared. Aunt Missouri 
never returned to the parlor evidently thinking that the 
girls would attend to the final amenities with their callers. 
They were left alone with old Mr. Claiborne. They sat as 
though bound in their chairs, while the old man read in si 
lence for a while. Finally he closed his book, glanced about 
him, and observed absently: 

"So you boys were to spend the night?" Then, as he 
looked at their startled faces: "I'm right, am I not? You 
are to spent the night?" 

Oh, for courage to say: "Thank you, no. We'll be going 
now. We just came over to call on Miss Champe." But 
thought of how this would sound in face of the facts, the 
painful realization that they dared not say it because they 
had not said it, locked their lips. Their feet were lead; 
their tongues stiff and too large for their mouths. Like 
creatures in a nightmare, they moved stiffly, one might have 
said creakingly, up the stairs and received each a bed 
room candle! 

"Good night, children," said the absent-minded old man. 
The two gurgled out some sounds which were intended for 
words and doged behind the bedroom door. 

"They've put us to bed!" Abner's black eyes flashed 
fire. His nervous hands clutched at the collar Ross had 
lent him. "That's what I get for coming here with you, 
Ross Pryor!" And tears of humiliation stood in his eyes. 

In his turn Ross showed no resentment. "What I'm wor 
ried about is my mother," he confessed. "She's so sharp 
about finding out things. She wouldn't tease me she'd just 


be sorry for me. But she'll think I went home with you." 

"I'd like to see my mother make a fuss about my calling 
on the girls!" growled Abner, glad to let his rage take a 
safe direction. 

"Calling on the girls! Have we called on any girls?" 
demanded clear-headed, honest Ross. 

"Not exactly yet," admitted Abner, reluctantly. "Come 
on let's go to bed. Mr. Claiborne asked us, and he's the 
head of this household. It isn't anybody's business what 
we came for." 

"Ill slip off my shoes and lie down till Babe ties up the 
dog in the morning," said Ross. "Then we can get away 
before any of the family is up." 

Oh, youth youth youth, with its rash promises! Worn 
out with misery the boys slept heavily. The first sound 
that either heard in the morning was Babe hammering 
upon their bedroom door. They crouched guiltily and looked 
into each other's eyes. "Let pretend we ain't here and he'll 
go away," breathed Abner. 

But Babe was made of sterner stuff. He rattled the knob. 
He turned it. He put in a black face with a grin which di 
vided it from ear to ear. "Cady say I mus' call dem fool 
boys to breakfus'," he announced. "I never named you- 
all dat. Cady, she say dat." 

"Breakfast!" echoed Ross, in a daze. 

"Yessuh, breakfus'," reasserted Babe, coming entirely 
into the room and looking curiously about him. "Ain't you- 
all done been to bed at all?" wrapping his arms about his 
shoulders and shaking with silent ecstasies of mirth. The 
boys threw themselves upon him and ejected him. 

"Sent up a servant to call us to breakfast," snarled Abner. 
"If they'd only sent their old servant to the door in the first 
place, all this wouldn't 'a' happened. I'm just that way 
when I get thrown off the track. You know how it was 
when I tried to repeat those things to you I had to go 
clear back to the beginning when I got interrupted." 

"Does that mean that you're still hanging around here 
to begin over and make a call?" asked Ross, darkly. "I 
won't go down to breakfast if you are." 

A CALL 249 

Abner brightened a little as he saw Ross becoming wordy 
in his rage. "I dare you to walk downstairs and say, 'We- 
just-dropped-in-to-call-on-Miss-Champe'!" he said. 

"I oh I darn it all! there goes the second bell. We 
may as well trot down." 

"Don't leave me, Ross," pleaded the Jilton boy. "I can't 
stay here and I can't go down." 

The tone was hysterical. The boy with freckles took his 
companion by the arm without another word and marched 
him down the stairs. "We may get a chance yet to call on 
Champe all by herself out on the porch or in the arbor be 
fore she goes to school," he suggested, by way of putting 
some spine into the black-eyed boy. 

An emphatic bell rang when they were half-way down the 
stairs. Clutching their hats, they slunk into the dining- 
room. Even Mr. Claiborne seemed to notice something un 
usual in their bearing as they settled into the chairs as 
signed to them, and asked them kindly if they had slept 

It was plain that Aunt Missouri had been posting him as 
to her understanding of the intentions of these young men. 
The state of affairs gave an electric hilarity to the atmos 
phere. Babe travelled from the sideboard to the table, 
trembling like chocolate pudding. Cady insisted on bring 
ing in the cakes herself, and grinned as she whisked her 
starched blue skirts in and out of the dining-room. A 
dimple even showed itself at the corners of pretty Alicia's 
prim little mouth. Champe giggled, till Ross heard Cady 

"Now you got one dem snickerin' spells agin. You gwinc 
bust yo' dress buttons off in the back ef you don't mind." 

As the spirits of those about them mounted, the hearts 
of the two youths sank if it was like this among the Clai- 
bornes, what would it be at school and in the world at large 
when their failure to connect intention with result became 
village talk? Ross bit fiercely upon an unoffending batter- 
cake, and resolved to make a call single-handed before he 
left the house. 

They went out of the dining-room, tbeir hate as evef 


pressed to their breasts. With no volition of their own, 
their uncertain young legs carried them to the porch. The 
Claiborne family and household followed like small boys 
after a circus procession. When the two turned, at bay, 
yet with nothing between them and liberty but a hypnotism 
of their own suggestion, they saw the black faces of the ser 
vants peering over the family shoulders. 

Ross was the boy to have drawn courage from the des 
peration of their case, and made some decent if not glorious 
ending. But at the psychological moment there came around 
the corner of the house that most contemptible figure known 
to the Southern plantation, a shirt-boy a creature who may 
be described, for the benefit of those not informed, as a 
pickaninny clad only in a long, coarse cotton shirt. While 
all eyes were fastened upon him this inglorious ambassador 
bolted forth his message: 

"Yo' ma say" his eyes were fixed upon Abner "ef yo' 
don' come home, she gwine come after yo' an' cut yo' 
into inch pieces wid a rawhide when she git yo'. Dat jest 
what Miss Hortense say." 

As though such a book as Hints and Helps had never ex 
isted, Abner shot for the gate he was but a hobbledehoy 
fascinated with the idea of playing gentleman. But in Ross 
there were the makings of a man. For a few half-hearted 
paces, under the first impulse of horror, he followed his 
deserting chief, the laughter of the family, the unrestrain- 
able guffaws of the negroes, sounding in the rear. But when 
Champe's high, offensive giggle, topping all the others, in 
sulted his ears, he stopped dead, wheeled, and ran to the 
porch faster than he had fled from it. White as paper, shak 
ing with inexpressible rage, he caught and kissed the titter 
ing girl, violently, noisily, before them all. 

The negroes fled they dared not trust their feelings; even 
Alicia sniggered unobtrusively; Grandfather Claiborne 
chuckled, and Aunt Missouri frankly collapsed into heil 
rocking-chair, bubbling with mirth, crying out: 

"Good for you, Ross! Seems you did know how to call 
on the girls, after all." 

But Ross, paying no attention, walked swiftly toward 

A CALL 251 

the gate. He had served his novitiate. He would never be 
afraid again. With cheerful alacrity he dodged the stones 
flung after him with friendly, erratic aim by the girl upon 
whom, yesterday afternoon, he had come to make a social 



OF COURSE the Widow Stimson never tried to win 
Deacon Hawkins, nor any other man, for that mat 
ter. A widow doesn't have to try to win a man; she 
wins without trying. Still, the Widow Stimson sometimes 
wondered why the deacon was so blind as not to see how her 
fine farm adjoining his equally fine place on the outskirts of 
the town might not be brought under one management with 
mutual benefit to both parties at interest. Which one that 
management might become was a matter of future detail. 
The widow knew how to run a farm successfully, and a large 
farm is not much more difficult to run than one of half the 
size. She had also had one husband, and knew something 
more than running a farm successfully. Of all of which the 
deacon was perfectly well aware, and still he had not been 
moved by the merging spirit of the age to propose con 

This interesting situation was up for discussion at the 
Wednesday afternoon meeting of the Sisters' Sewing Society. 

"For my part," Sister Susan Spicer, wife of the Metho 
dist minister, remarked as she took another tuck in a four 
teen-year-old girl's skirt for a ten-year-old "for my part, I 
can't see why Deacon Hawkins and Kate Stimson don't see 
the error of their ways and depart from them." 

"I rather guess she has," smiled Sister Poteet, the grocer's 
better half, who had taken an afternoon off from the store 
in order to be present. 

From Harper's Bazaar, April, 1911; copyright, 1911, by Har 
per & Brothers; republished by permission. 



"Or is willing to," added Sister Maria Cartridge, a 
spinster still possessing faith, hope, and charity, notwith 
standing she had been on the waiting list a long time. 

"Really, now," exclaimed little Sister Green, the doctor's 
wife, "do you think it is the deacon who needs urging?" 

"It looks that way to me," Sister Poteet did not hesitate 
to affirm. 

"Well, I heard Sister Clark say that she had heard him 
call her 'Kitty' one night when they were eating ice-cream 
at the Mite Society," Sister Candish, the druggist's wife, 
added to the fund of reliable information on hand. 

" 'Kitty,' indeed!" protested Sister Spicer. "The idea of 
anybody calling Kate Stimson 'Kitty'! The deacon will 
talk that way to 'most any woman, but if she let him say it 
to her more than once, she must be getting mighty anxious, 
I think." 

"Oh," Sister Candish hastened to explain, "Sister Clark 
didn't say she had heard him say it twice." 

"Well, I don't think she heard him say it once," Sister 
Spicer asserted with confidence. 

"I don't know about that," Sister Poteet argued. "From 
all I can see and hear I think Kate Stimson wouldn't ob 
ject to 'most anything the deacon would say to her, know 
ing as she does that he ain't going to say anything he 
shouldn't say." 

"And isn't saying what he should," added Sister Greea, 
with a sly snicker, which went around the room softly. 

"But as I was saying " Sister Spicer began, when 

Sister Poteet, whose rocker, near the window, commanded 
a view of the front gate, interrupted with a warning, 
" 'Sh-'sh." 

"Why shouldn't I say what I wanted to when " 

Sister Spicer began. 

"There she comes now," explained Sister Poteet, "and as 
I live the deacon drove her here in his sleigh, and he's 
waiting while she comes in. I wonder what next," and 
Sister Poteet, in conjunction with the entire society, gasped 
and held their eager breaths, awaiting the entrance of the 
subject of conversation. 


Sister Spicer went to the front door to let her in, and 
she was greeted with the greatest cordiality by every 

"We were just talking about you and wondering why 
you were so late coming," cried Sister Poteet. "Now take 
off your 'things and make up for lost time. There's a pair 
of pants over there to be cut down to fit that poor little 
Snithers boy." 

The excitement and curiosity of the society were almost 
more than could be borne, but never a sister let on that she 
knew the deacon was at the gate waiting. Indeed, as far 
as the widow could discover, there was not the slightest in 
dication that anybody had ever heard there was such a 
person as the deacon in existence. 

"Oh," she chirruped, in the liveliest of humors, "you will 
have to excuse me for today. Deacon Hawkins overtook 
me on the way here, and fie said I had simply got to go 
sleigh-riding with him. He's waiting out at the gate now." 

"Is that so?" exclaimed the society unanimously, and 
rushed to the window to see if it were really true. 

"Well, did you ever?" commented Sister Poteet, gen 

"Hardly ever," laughed the widow, good-naturedly, "and 
I don't want to lose the chance. You know Deacon Haw 
kins isn't asking somebody every day to go sleighing with 
him. I told him I'd go if he would bring me around here 
to let you know what had become of me, and so he did. 
Now, good-by, and I'll be sure to be present at the next 
meeting. I have to hurry because he'll get fidgety." 

The widow ran away like a lively schoolgirl. All the 
sisters watched her get into the sleigh with the deacon, and 
resumed the previous discussion with greatly increased in 

But little recked the widow and less recked the deacon. 
He had bought a new horse and he wanted the widow's 
opinion of it, for the Widow Stimson was a competent judge 
of fine horseflesh. If Deacon Hawkins had one insatiable 
ambition it was to own a horse which could fling its heels 
in the face of the best that Squire Hopkins drove. In his 


early manhood the deacon was no deacon by a great deal. 
But as the years gathered in behind him he put off most 
of the frivolities of youth and held now only to the one of 
driving a fast horse. No other man in the county drove 
anything faster except Squire Hopkins, and him the deacon 
had not been able to throw the dust over. The deacon 
would get good ones, but somehow never could he find one 
that the squire didn't get a better. The squire had also 
in the early days beaten the deacon in the race for a cer 
tain pretty girl he dreamed about. But the girl and the 
squire had lived happily ever after and the deacon, being a 
philosopher, might have forgotten the squire's superiority 
had it been manifested in this one regard only. But u? 
horses, too that graveled the deacon. 

"How much did you give for him?" was the widow's first 
query, after they had reached a stretch of road that was 
good going and the deacon had let him out for a length 
or two. 

"Well, what do you suppose? You're a judge." 

"More than I would give, I'll bet a cookie." 

"Not if you was as anxious as I am to show Hopkins 
that he can't drive by everything on the pike." 

"I thought you loved a good horse because he was a 
good horse," said the widow, rather disapprovingly. 

"I do, but I could love him a good deal harder if he 
would stay in front of Hopkins's best." 

"Does he know you've got this one?" 

"Yes, and he's been blowing round town that he is wait 
ing to pick me up on the road some day and make my 
five hundred dollars look like a pewter quarter." 

"So you gave five hundred dollars for him, did you?" 
laughed the widow. 

"Is it too much?" 

"Um-er," hesitated the widow, glancing along the grace 
ful lines of the powerful trotter, "I suppose not if you can 
beat the squire." 

"Right you are," crowed the deacon, "and 111 show him 
a thing or two in getting over the ground," he added with 
swelling pride. 


"Well, I hope he won't be out looking for you today, with 
me in your sleigh," said the widow, almost apprehensively, 
"because, you know, deacon, I have always wanted you to 
beat Squire Hopkins." 

The deacon looked at her sharply. There was a softness 
in her tones that appealed to him, even if she had not ex 
pressed such agreeable sentiments. Just what the deacon 
might have said or done after the impulse had been set going 
must remain unknown, for at the crucial moment a sound 
of militant bells, bells of defiance, jangled up behind them, 
disturbing their personal absorption, and they looked around 
simultaneously. Behind the bells was the squire in his 
sleigh drawn by his fastest stepper, and he was alone, as 
the deacon was not. The widow weighed one hundred and 
sixty pounds, net which is weighting a horse in a race 
rather more than the law allows. 

But the deacon never thought of that. Forgetting every 
thing except his cherished ambition, he braced himself for 
the contest, took a twist hold on the lines, sent a sharp, 
quick call to his horse, and let him out for all that was in 
him. The squire followed suit and the deacon. The road 
was wide and the snow was worn down smooth. The 
track couldn't have been in better condition. The Hopkins 
colors were not five rods behind the Hawkins colors as they 
got away. For half a mile it was nip and tuck, the deacon 
encouraging his horse and the widow encouraging the dea 
con, and then the squire began creeping up. The deacon's 
horse was a good one, but he was not accustomed to hauling 
freight in a race. A half-mile of it was as much as he 
could stand, and he weakened under the strain. 

Not handicapped, the squire's horse forged ahead, and as 
his nose pushed up to the dashboard of the deacon's sleigh, 
that good man groaned in agonized disappointment and bit 
terness of spirit. The widow was mad all over that Squire 
Hopkins should take such a mean advantage of his rival. 
Why didn't he wait till another time when the deacon was 
alone, as he was? If she had her way she never would 
speak to Squire Hopkins again, nor to his wife, either. But 
her resentment was not helping the deacon's horse to win. 


Slowly the squire pulled closer to the front; the deacon's 
horse, realizing what it meant to his master and to him, 
spurted bravely, but, struggle as gamely as he might, tne 
odds were too many for him, and he dropped to the rear. 
The squire shouted in triumph as he drew past the deacon, 
and the dejected Hawkins shrivelled into a heap on the 
seat, with only his hands sufficiently alive to hold the lines. 
He had been beaten again, humiliated before a woman, and 
that, too, with the best horse that he could hope to put 
against the ever-conquering squire. Here sank his fondest 
hopes, here ended his ambition. From this on he would 
drive a mule or an automobile. The fruit of his desire 
had turned to ashes in his mouth. 

But no. What of the widow? She realized, if the deacon 
did not, tiiat she, not the squire's horse, had beaten the 
deacon's, and she was ready to make what atonement she 
could. As the squire passed ahead of the deacon she was 
starred by a noble resolve. A deep bed of drifted snow lay 
close by the side of the road not far in front. It was soft 
and safe and she smiled as she looked at it as though wait 
ing for her. Without a hint of her purpose, or a sign to* 
disturb the deacon in his final throes, she rose as the sleigh 
ran near its edge, and with a spring which had many a 
time sent her lightly from the ground to the bare back of 
a horse in the meadow, she cleared the robes and lit plump 
in the drift. The deacon's horse knew before the deacon 
did that something had happened in his favor, and was 
quick to respond. With his first jump of relief the deacon 
suddenly revived, his hopes came fast again, his blood re- 
tingled, he gathered himself, and, cracking his lines, he shot 
forward, and three minutes later he had passed the squire 
as though he were nitched to the fence. For a quarter of 
a mile the squire made heroic efforts to recover his vanished 
prestige, but effort was useless, and finally concluding that 
he was practically left standing, he veered off from the main 
road down a farm lane to find some spot in which to hide 
the humiliation of his defeat. The deacon, still going at a 
dipping gait, had one eye over his shoulder as wary drivers 
always have on such occasions, and when he saw the squire 


was off the track he slowed down and jogged along with the 
apparent intention of continuing indefinitely. Presently an 
idea struck him, and he looked around for the widow. She 
was not where he had seen her last. Where was she? In 
the enthusiasm of victory he had forgotten her. He was so 
dejected at the moment she had leaped that he did not 
realize what she had done, and two minutes later he was 
so elated that, shame on him! he did not care. With her, 
all was lost; without her, all was won, and the deacon's 
greatest ambition was to win. But now, with victory 
perched on his horse-collar, success his at last, he thought 
of the widow, and he did care. He cared so much that he 
almost threw his horse off his feet by the abrupt turn he 
gave him, and back down the pike he flew as if a legion of 
squires were after him. 

He did not know what injury she might have sustained; 
$he might have been seriously hurt, if not actually killed. 
And why? Simply to make it possible for him to win. The 
deacon shivered as he thought of it, and urged his horse to 
greater speed. The squire, down the lane, saw him whizzing 
along and accepted it profanely as an exhibition for his 
especial benefit. The deacon now had forgotten the squire 
as he had only so shortly before forgotten the widow. Two 
hundred yards from the drift into which she had jumped 
there was a turn in the road, where some trees shut off the 
sight, and the deacon's anxiety increased momentarily until 
he reached this point. From here he could see ahead, and 
down there in the middle of the road stood the widow wav 
ing her shawl as a banner of triumph, though she could 
only guess at results. The deacon came on with a rush, 
and pulled up alongside of her in a condition of nervous 
ness he didn't think possible to him. 

"Hoc-ray! hooray! ' shouted the widow, tossing her shawl 
into the air. You beat him. I know you did. Didn't 
you? i saw you pulling ahead at the turn yonder. Where 
is ne and his old plug?" 

"Oh, bother take him and his horse and the race and 
everything. Are you hurt?" gasped the deacon, jumping 
out, but mindful to keep the lines in his hand. "Are you 


hurt?" he repeated, anxiously, though she looked anything 
but a hurt woman. 

"If I am," she chirped, cheerily, "I'm not hurt half as 
bad as I would have been if the squire had beat you, deacon. 
Now don't you worry about me. Let's hurry back to town 
so the squire won't get another chance, with no place for 
me to jump." 

And the deacon? Well, well, with the lines in the croofc 
of his elbow the deacon held out his arms to the wido-vc 

and . The sisters at the next meeting of the Sewing 

Society were unanimously of the opinion that any woman 
who would risk her life like that for a husband was mighty 



6 * \ ^' ^^ nex ' fr" aw dat houn' P U P seen, he pass him 

r\ by wide." 

The house, which had hung upon every word, roared 
with laughter, and shook with a storming volley of applause. 
Gideon bowed to right and to left, low, grinning, assured 
comedy obeisances; but as the laughter and applause grew 
he shook his head, and signaled quietly for the drop. He 
had answered many encores, and he was an instinctive ar 
tist. It was part of the fuel of his vanity that his audience 
had never yet had enough of him. Dramatic judgment, as 
well as dramatic sense of delivery, was native to him, quali 
ties which the shrewd Felix Stuhk, his manager and ex 
ultant discoverer, recognized and wisely trusted in. Off 
stage Gideon was watched over like a child and a delicate in 
vestment, but once behind the footlights he was allowed to 
go his own triumphant gait. 

It was small wonder that Stuhk deemed himself one of 
the cleverest managers in the business; that his narrow, blue- 
shaven face was continually chiseled in smiles of complacent 
self-congratulation. He was rapidly becoming rich, and 
there were bright prospects of even greater triumphs, with 
proportionately greater reward. He had made Gideon a 
national character, a headliner, a star of the first magnitude 
in the firmament of tiie vaudeville theater, and all in six 
short months. Or, at any rate, he had helped to make him 
all this; he had booked him well and given him his oppor 
tunity. To be sure, Gideon had done the rest; Stuhk was as 

From The Century Magazine, April, 1914; copyright, 1914, by 
The Century Co. ; republished by the author's permission. 



ready as any one to do credit to Gideon's ability. Stillj 
after all, he, Stuhk, -was the discoverer, the theatrical Colum 1 
bus who had had the courage and the vision. 

A now-hallowed attack of tonsilitis had driven him to 
Florida, where presently Gideon had been employed to be 
guile his convalescence, and guide him over the intricate 
shallows of that long lagoon known as the Indian River in 
search of various fish. On days when fish had been reluctant 
Gideon had been lured into conversation, and gradually into 
narrative and the relation of what had appeared to Gideon 
as humorous and entertaining; and finally Felix, the vague 
idea growing big within him, had one day persuaded his 
boatman to dance upon the boards of a long pier where they 
had made fast for lunch. There, with all the sudden glory 
of crystallization, the vague idea took definite form and be 
came the great inspiration of Stuhk's career. 

Gideon had grown to be to vaudeville much what Uncle 
Remus is to literature: there was virtue in his very simplicity. 
His artistry itself was native and natural. He loved a good 
story, and he told it from his own sense of the gleeful morsel 
upon his tongue as no training could have made him. He 
always enjoyed his story and himself in the telling. Tales 
never lost their savor, no matter how often repeated; age 
was powerless to dim the humor of the thing, and as he had 
shouted and gurgled and laughed over the fun of things 
when all alone, or holding forth among the men and women 
and Tittle children of his color, so he shouted and gurgled 
and broke from sonorous chuckles to musical, falsetto mirth 
when he fronted the sweeping tiers of faces across the in 
toxicating glare of the footlights. He had that rare power 
of transmitting something of his own enjoyments. When 
Gideon was on the stage, Stuhk used to enjoy peeping out 
at the intent, smiling faces of the audience, where men and 
women and children, hardened theater-goers and folk fresh 
from the country, sat with moving lips and faces lit with an 
eager interest and sympathy for the black man strutting in 
loose-footed vivacity before them. 

"He's simply unique," he boasted to wondering local man- 
"unique, and it took me to find him. There he was, 


a little black gold-mine, and all of 'em passed him by until 
I came. Some eye? What? I guess you'll admit you have 
to hand it some to your Uncle Felix. If that coon's health 
holds out, we'll have all the money there is in the mint." 

That was Felix's real anxiety "If his health holds out." 
Gideon's health was watched over as if he had been an ail 
ing prince. His bubbling vivacity was the foundation upon 
which his charm and his success were built. Stuhk became 
a sort of vicarious neurotic, eternally searching for symptoms 
in his protege; Gideon's tongue, Gideon's liver, Gideon's 
heart were matters to him of an unfailing and anxious in 
terest. And of late of course it might be imagination 
Gideon had shown a little physical falling off. He ate a bit 
less, he had begun to move in a restless way, and, worst of 
all, he laughed less frequently. 

As a matter of fact, there was ground for Stuhk's appre 
hension. It was not all a matter of managerial imagination: 
Gideon was less himself. Physically there was nothing the 
matter with him; he could have passed his rigid insurance 
scrutiny as easily as he had done months before, when his 
life and health had been insured for a sum that made good 
copy for his press-agent. He was sound in every organ, but 
there was something lacking in general tone. Gideon felt it 
himself, and was certain that a "misery," that embracing in 
disposition of his race, was creeping upon him. He had been 
fed well, too well; he was growing rich, too rich; he had 
all the praise, all the flattery that his enormous appetite for 
approval desired, and too much of it. White men sought 
him out and made much of him; white women talked to him 
about his career; and wherever he went, women of color 
black girls, brown girls, yellow girls wrote him of their 
admiration, whispered, when he would listen, of their pas 
sion and hero-worship. "City niggers" bowed down before 
him; the high gallery was always packed with them. Musk- 
scented notes scrawled upon barbaric, "high-toned" sta 
tionery poured in upon him. Even a few white women, to 
his horror and embarrassment, had written him of love, let 
ters which he straightway destroyed. His sense of his po 
sition was strong in him; he was proud of it. There might 


be "folks outer their haids," but he had the sense to remem 
ber. For months he had lived in a heaven of gratified van 
ity, but at last his appetite had begun to falter. He was 
sated ; his soul longed to wipe a spiritual mouth on the back 
of a spiritual hand, and have done. His face, now that the 
curtain was down and he was leaving the stage, was dole 
ful, almost sullen. 

Stuhk met him anxiously in the wings, and walked with 
him to his dressing-room. He felt suddenly very weary of 

"Nothing the matter, Gideon, is there? Not feeling sick 
or anything?" 

"No, Misteh Stuhk; no, seh. Jes don' feel extry pert, 
that's all." 

"But what is it anything bothering you?" 

Gideon sat gloomily before his mirror. 

"Misteh Stuhk," he said at last, "I been steddyin' it oveh, 
and I about come to the delusion that I needs a good po'k- 
chop. Seems foolish, I know, but it do' seem as if a good 
po'k-chop, fried jes right, would he'p consid'able to disum- 
pate this misery feelin' that's crawlin' and creepin' round 
my sperit." 

Stuhk laughed. 

"Pork-chop, eh? Is that the best you can think of? I 
know what you mean, though. I've thought for some time 
that you were getting a little overtrained. What you need 
is let me see yes, a nice bottle of wine. That's the ticket; 
it will ease things up and won't do you any harm. Ill g& 
with you. Ever had any champagne, Gideon?" 

Gideon struggled for politeness. 

"Yes, seh, I's had champagne, and it's a nice kind of 
lickeh sho enough; but, Misteh Stuhk, seh, I don' want 
any of them high-tone drinks to-night, an' ef yo' don' mind, 
I'd rather amble off 'lone, or mebbe eat that po'k-chop with 
some otheh cullud man, ef I kin fin' one that ain' one of 
them no-'count Carolina niggers. Do you s'pose yo' could 
let me have a little money to-night, Misteh Stuhk?" 

Stuhk thought rapidly. Gideon had certainly worked 
hard, and he was not dissipated. If he wanted to roam the 


town by himself, there was no harm in it. The sullenness 
still showed in the black face; Heaven knew what he might 
do if he suddenly began to balk. Stuhk thought it wise to 
consent gracefully. 

"Good!" he said. "Fly to it. How much do you want? 
A hundred?" 

"How much is coming to me?" 

"About a thousand, Gideon." 

"Well, I'd moughty like five hun'red of it. ef that's 
'greeable to yoV 

Felix whistled. 

"Five hundred? Pork-chops must be coming high. You 
don't want to carry all that money around, do you?" 

Gideon did not answer; he looked very gloomy. 

Stuhk hastened to cheer him. 

"Of course you can have anything you want. Wait a 
minute, and I will get it for you. 

"I'll bet that coon's going to buy himself a ring or some 
thing," he reflected as he went in search of the local manager 
and Gideon's money. 

But Stuhk was wrong. Gideon had no intention of buy 
ing himself a ring. For the matter of that, he had several 
that were amply satisfactory. They had size and sparkle 
and luster, all the diamond brilliance that rings need to 
have; and for none of them had he paid much over five dol 
lars. He was amply supplied with jewelry in which he felt 
perfect satisfaction. His present want was positive, if 
nebulous; he desired a fortune in his pocket, bulky, tangible 
evidence of his miraculous success. Ever since Stuhk had 
found him, life had had an unreal quality for him. His 
Monte Cristo wealth was too much like a fabulous, dream- 
found treasure, money that could not be spent without dan 
ger of awakening. And he had dropped into the habit of 
storing it about him, so that in any pocket into which he 
plunged his hand he might find a roll of crisp evidence of 
reality. He liked his bills to be of all denominations, and 
some so large as exquisitely to stagger imagination, others 
charming by their number and crispness the dignified, 
orange paper of a man of assured position and wealth 


crackling greenbacks the design of which tinged the whole 
with actuality. He was specially partial to engravings of 
President Lincoln, the particular savior and patron of his 
race. This five hundred dollars he was adding to an unreck- 
oned sum of about two thousand, merely as extra fortification 
against a growing sense of gloom. He wished to brace his 
flagging spirits with the gay wine of possession, and he was 
glad, when the money came, that it was in an elastic-bound 
roll, so bulky that it was pleasantly uncomfortable in his 
pocket as he left his manager. 

As he turned into the brilliantly lighted street from the 
somber alleyway of the stage entrance, he paused for a 
moment to glance at his own name, in three-foot letters of 
red, before the doors of the theater. He could read, and 
the large block type always pleased him. "THIS WEEK: 
GIDEON." That was all. None of the fulsome praise, the 
superlative, necessary definition given to lesser performers. 
He had been, he remembered, "GIDEON, America's Fore 
most Native Comedian," a title that was at once boast and 
challenge. That necessity was now past, for he was a na 
tional character; any explanatory qualification would have 
been an insult to the public intelligence. To the world he 
was just "Gideon"; that was enough. It gave him pleasure, 
as he sauntered along, to see the announcement repeated on 
window cards and hoardings. 

Presently he came to a window before which he paused in 
delighted wonder. It was not a large window; to the casual 
eye of the passer-by there was little to draw attention. By 
day it lighted the fractional floor space of a little stationer, 
who supplemented a slim business by a sub-agency for rail 
road and steamship lines; but to-night this window seemed 
the framework of a marvel of coincidence. On the broad, 
dusty sill inside were propped two cards: the one on the left 
was his own red-lettered announcement for the week; the 
one at the right oh, world of wonders! was a photogravure 
of that exact stretch of the inner coast of Florida which 
Gideon knew best, which was home. 

There it was, the Indian River, rippling idly in full sun 
light,, palmettos leaning over the water, palmettos standing 


as irregular sentries along the low, reeflike island which 
stretched away out of the picture. There was the gigantic, 
lonely pine he knew well, and, yes he could just make it 
out there was his own ramshackle little pier, which stretched 
in undulating fashion, like a long-legged, wading caterpillar, 
from the abrupt shore-line of eroded coquina into deep 

He thought at first that this picture of his home was some 
new and delicate device put forth by his press-agent. His 
name on one side of a window, his birthplace upon the 
other what could be more tastefully appropriate? There 
fore, as he spelled out the reading-matter beneath the photo 
gravure, he was sharply disappointed. It read: 

Spend this winter in balmy Florida. 

Come to the Land of Perpetual Sunshine. 

Golf, tennis, driving, shooting, boating, fishing, all of the best. 

There was more, but he had no heart for it; he was disap 
pointed and puzzled. This picture had, after all, nothing to 
do with him. It was a chance, and yet, what a strange 
chance! It troubled and upset him. His black, round- 
featured face took on deep wrinkles of perplexity. The 
"misery" which had hung darkly on his horizon for weeks 
engulfed him without warning. But in the very bitterness 
of his melancholy he knew at last his disease. It was not 
champagne or recreation that he needed, not even a "po'k- 
chop," although his desire for it had been a symptom, a 
groping for a too homeopathic remedy: he was homesick. 

Easy, childish tears came into his eyes, and ran over his 
shining cheeks. He shivered forlornly with a sudden sense 
of cold, and absently clutched at the lapels of his gorgeous, 
fur-lined ulster. 

Then in abrupt reaction he laughed aloud, so that the 
shrill, musical falsetto startled the passers-by, and in another 
moment a little semicircle of the curious watched spell 
bound as a black man, exquisitely appareled, danced in wild, 
loose grace before the dull background of a somewhat grimy 
and apparently vacant window. A newsboy recognized him. 


He heard his name being passed from mouth to mouth, and 
came partly to his senses. He stopped dancing, and grinned 
at them. 

"Say, you are Gideon, ain't you?" his discoverer de 
manded, with a sort of reverent audacity. 

"Yaas, seh," said Gideon; "that's me. Yo' shu got it 
right." He broke into a joyous peal of laughter the laugh 
ter that had made him famous, and bowed deeply before 
him. "Gideon posi-tive-ly his las' puffawmunce." Turn 
ing, he dashed for a passing trolley, and, still laughing, swung 

He was naturally honest. In a land of easy morality his 
friends had accounted him something of a paragon; nor had 
Stuhk ever had anything but praise for him. But now he 
crushed aside the ethics of his intent without a single 
troubled thought. Running away has always been inherent 
in the negro. He gave one regretful thought to the gorgeous 
wardrobe he was leaving behind him; but he dared not re 
turn for it. Stuhk might have taken it into his head to go 
back to their rooms. He must content himself with the re 
flection that he was at that moment wearing his best. 

The trolley seemed too slow for him, 'and, as always hap 
pened nowadays, he was recognized ; he heard his name whis 
pered, and was aware of the admiring glances of the curi 
ous. Even popularity had its drawbacks. He got down in 
front of a big hotel and chose a taxicab from the waiting 
rank, exporting the driver to make his best speed to the 
station. Leaning back in the soft depths of the cab, he 
savored his independence, cheered already by the swaying, 
lurching speed. At the station he tipped the driver in lordly 
fashion, very much pleased with himself and anxious to give 
pleasure. Only the sternest prudence and an unconquer 
able awe of uniform had kept him from tossing bills to the 
various traffic policemen who had seemed to smile upon his 

No through train left for hours; but after the first disap 
pointment of momentary check, he decided that he was more 
pleased than otherwise. It would save embarrassment. He 
was going South, where his color would be more considered 


than his reputation, and on the little local he chose there 
was a "Jim Crow" car one, that is, specially set aside for 
those of his race. That it proved crowded and full of 
smoke did not trouble him at all, nor did the admiring pleas 
antries which the splendor of his apparel immediately called 
forth. No one knew him; indeed, he was naturally enough 
mistaken for a prosperous gambler, a not unflattering sup 
position. In the yard, after the train pulled out, he saw his 
private car under a glaring arc light, and grinned to see it 
left behind. 

He spent the night pleasantly in a noisy game of high- 
low-jack, and the next morning slept more soundly than he 
had slept for weeks, hunched upon a wooden bench in the 
boxlike station of a North Carolina junction. The ex 
press would have brought him to Jacksonville in twenty-four 
hours; the journey, as he took it, boarding any local that 
happened to be going south, and leaving it for meals or 
sometimes for sleep or often as the whim possessed him, 
filled five happy days. There he took a night train, and 
dozed from Jacksonville until a little north of New Smyrna. 

He awoke to find it broad daylight, and the car half 
empty. The train was on a siding, with news of a freight 
wreck ahead. Gideon stretched himself, and looked out of 
the window, and emotion seized him. For all his journey 
the South had seemed to welcome him, but here at last was 
the country he knew. He went out upon the platform and 
threw back his head, sniffing the soft breeze, heavy with 
the mysterious thrill of unplowed acres, the wondrous ex 
istence of primordial jungle, where life has rioted unceasingly 
above unceasing decay. It was dry with the fine dust of 
waste places, and wet with the warm mists of slumbering 
swamps; it seemed to Gideon to tremble with the songs of 
birds, the dry murmur of palm leaves, c.nd the almost in 
audible whisper of the gray moss that festooned the live- 

"Um-m-m," he murmured, apostrophizing it, "yo' 's the 
right kind o' breeze, yo' is. Yo'-all 's healthy." Still snif 
fing, he climbed down to the dusty road-bed. 

The negroes who had ridden with him were sprawled 


about him on the ground; one of them lay sleeping, face up, 
in the sunlight. The train had evidently been there for 
some time, and there were no signs of an immediate de 
parture. He bought some oranges of a little, bowlegged 
black boy, and sat down on a log to eat them and to give 
up his mind to enjoyment. The sun was hot upon him, and 
his thoughts were vague and drowsy. He was glad that he 
was alive, glad to be back once more among familiar scenes. 
Down the length of the train he saw white passengers from 
the Pullmans restlessly pacing up and down, getting into 
their cars and out of them, consulting watches, attaching 
themselves with gesticulatory expostulation to various offi 
cials; but their impatience found no echo in his thought. 
What was the hurry? There was plenty of time. It was 
sufficient to have come to his own land; the actual walls of 
home could wait. The delay was pleasant, with its oppor 
tunity for drowsy sunning, its relief from the grimy monot 
ony of travel. He glanced at the orange-colored "Jim 
Crow" with distaste, and inspiration, dawning slowly upon 
him, swept all other thought before it in its great and grow 
ing glory. 

A brakeman passed, and Gideon leaped to his feet and 
pursued him. 

"Misteh, how long yo'-all reckon this train goin' to be?" 

"About an hour." 

The question had been a mere matter of form. Gideon 
had made up his mind, and if he had been told that they 
started in five minutes he would not have changed it. He 
climbed back into the car for his coat and his hat, and then 
almost furtively stole down the steps again and slipped 
quietly into the palmetto scrub. 

" 'Most made the mistake of ma life," he chuckled, 
"stickin' to that ol' tram foheveh. T isn't the right way at 
all fob Gideon to come home." 

The river was not far away. He could catch the dancing 
blue of it from time to time in ragged vista, and for thit 
beacon he steered directly. His coat was heavy on his arm 
his thin patent-leather ties pinched and burned and de 
manded detours around swampy places, but he was happy 


As he went along, his plan perfected itself. He would get 
into loose shoes again, old ones, if money could buy them, 
and old clothes, too. The bull-briers snatching at his tail 
ored splendor suggested that. 

He laughed when the Florida partridge, a small quail, 
whirred up from under his feet; he paused to exchange af 
fectionate mockery with red squirrels; and once, even when 
he was brought up suddenly to a familiar and ominous, dry 
reverberation, the small, crisp sound of the rolling drums of 
death, he did not look about him for some instrument of 
destruction, as at 'any other time he would have done, but 
instead peered cautiously over the log before him. and spoke 
in tolerant admonition: 

"Now, Misteh Rattlesnake, yo' jes min' yo' own busi 
ness. Nobody 's goin' step on yo', ner go triflin' roun' yo' 
in no way whatsomeveh. Yo' jes lay there in the sun an' 
git 's fat 's yo' please. Don' yo' tu'n yo' weeked HT eyes on 
Gideon. He's jes goin' 'long home, an' am' lookin' fob 
no muss." 

He came presently to the water, and, as luck would have 
it, to a little group of negro cabins, where he was able to 
buy old clothes and, after much dickering, a long and some 
what leaky rowboat rigged out with a tattered leg-of-mutton 
sail. This he provisioned with a jug of water, a starch box 
full of white corn-meal, and a wide strip of lean razorback 

As he pushed out from shore and set his sail to the small 
breeze that blew down from the north, an absolute con 
tentment possessed him. The idle waters of the lagoon, lying 
without tide or current in eternal indolence, rippled and 
sparkled in breeze and sunlight with a merry surface activ 
ity, and seemed to lap the leaky little boat more swiftly on 
its way. Mosquito Inlet opened broadly before him, and 
skirting the end of Merritt's Island he came at last into 
that longest lagoon, with which he was most familiar, the 
Indian River. Here the wind died down to a mere breath, 
which barely kept his boat in motion; but he made no at 
tempt to row. As long as he moved at all, he was satisfied. 
He was living the fulfilment of his dreams in exile, lounging 


in the stern in the ancient clothes he nad purchased, his feet 
stretched comfortably before him in their broken shoes, one 
foot upon a thwart, the other hanging overside so laxly that 
occasional ripples lapped the run-over heel. From time 
to time he scanned shore and river for familiar points of in 
terest some remembered snag that showed the tip of one 
gnarled branch. Or he marked a newly fallen palmetto, 
already rotting in the water, which must be added to that 
map of vast detail that he carried in his head. But for 
the most part his broad black face was turned up to the 
blue brilliance above him in unblinking contemplation; his 
keen eyes, brilliant despite their sun-muddied whites, reveled 
in the heights above him, swinging from horizon to horizon 
in the wake of an orderly file of little bluebill ducks, wing 
ing their way across the river, or brightening with interest 
at the rarer sight of a pair of mallards or redheads, lifting 
with the soaring circles of the great bald-headed eagle, or 
following the scattered squadron of heron white heron, 
blue heron, young and old, trailing, sunlit, brilliant patches, 
dear even against the bright white and blue of the sky 
above them. 

Often he laughed aloud, sending a great shout of mirth 
across the water in fresh relish of those comedies best known 
and best enjoyed. It was as excruciatingly funny as it had 
ever been, when his boat nosed its way into a great flock 
of ducks idling upon the water, to see the mad paddling 
haste of those nearest him, the reproachful turn of their 
heads, or, if he came too near, their spattering run out of 
water, feet and wings pumping together as they rose from 
the surface, looking for all the world like fat little women, 
scurrying with clutched skirts across city streets. The peli 
cans, too, delighted him as they perched with pedantic 
solemnity upon wharf-piles, or sailed in hunched and hud 
dled gravity twenty feet above the river's surface in swift, 
dignified flight, which always ended suddenly in an abrupt, 
up-ended plunge that threw dignity to the winds in its 
greedy haste, and dropped them crashing into the water. 

When darkness came suddenly at last, he made in toward 
shore, mooring to the worm-fretted end of a fallen and for- 


gotten landing. A straggling orange-grove was here, broken 
lines of vanquished cultivation, struggling little trees swathed 
and choked in the festooning gray moss, still showing here 
and there the valiant golden gleam of fruit. Gideon had 
seen many such places, had seen settlers come and clear 
themselves a space in liie jungle, plant their groves, and 
live for a while ki lazy independence; and then for some 
reason or other they would go, and before they had scarcely 
turned their backs, the jungle had crept in again, patiently 
restoring its ancient sovereignty. The place was eery with 
the ghost of dead effort; but it pleased him. 

He made a fire and cooked supper, eating enormously and 
with relish. His conscience did not trouble him at all. 
Stuhk and his own career seemed already distant; they 
took small place in his thoughts, and served merely as a 
background for his present absolute content. He picked 
some oranges, and ate them in meditative enjoyment. For 
a while he nodded, half asleep, beside his fire, watching the 
darkened river, where the mullet, shimmering with phos 
phorescence, still leaped starkly above the surface, and fell 
in spattering brilliance. Midnight found him sprawled asleep 
beside his fire. 

Once he awoke. The moon had risen, and a little breeze 
waved the hanging moss, and Whispered in the glossy foliage 
of orange and palmetto with a sound like falling rain. 
Gideon sat up and peered about him, rolling his eyes hither 
and thither at the menacing leap and dance of the jet shad 
ows. His heart was beating thickly, his muscles twitched, 
and the awful terrors of night pulsed and shuddered over 
him. Nameless specters peered at him from every shadow, 
ingenerate familiars of his wild, forgotten blood. He groaned 
aloud in a delicious terror; and presently, still twitching and 
shivering, fell asleep again. It was as if something magical 
had happened; his fear remembered the fear of centuries, 
and yet with the warm daylight was absolutely forgotten. 

He got up a little after sunrise, and went down to the 
river to bathe, diving deep with a joyful sense of freeing 
himself from the last alien dust of travel. Once ashore 
again, however, he began to prepare his breakfast with some 


haste. For the first time in his journey he was feeling a 
sense of loneliness and a longing for his kind. He was still 
happy, but his laughter began to seem strange to him in the 
solitude. He tried the defiant experiment of laughing for 
the effect of it, an experiment which brought him to his 
feet in startled terror; for his laughter was echoed. As he 
stood peering about him, the sound came again, not laughter 
this time, but a suppressed giggle. It was human beyond 
a doubt. Gideon's face shone with relief and sympathetic 
amusement ; he listened for a moment, and then strode surely 
forward toward a clump of low palms. There he paused, 
every sense alert. His ear caught a soft rustle, a little gasp 
of fear; the sound of a foot moved cautiously. 

"Missy," he said tentatively, "I reckon yo'-all 's come jei,- 
'bout 'n time foh breakfus. Yo' betteh have some. Ef yo' 
am' too white to sit down with a black man." 

The leaves parted, and a smiling face as black as Gideon's 
own regarded him in shy amusement. 

"Who is yo', man?" 

"I mought be king of Kongo," he laughed, "but I ain't. 
Yo' see befo' yo' jes Gideon at yo'r 'steemed sehvice." He 
bowed elaborately in the mock humility of assured impor 
tance, watching her face in pleasant anticipation. 

But neither awe nor rapture dawned there. She repeated 
the name, inclining her head coquettishly; but it evidently 
meant nothing to her. She was merely trying its sound. 
"Gideon, Gideon. I don' call to min' any sech name ez 
that. Yo'-all 's f 'om up No'th likely." He was beyond the 
reaches of fame. 

"No," said Gideon, hardly knowing whether he was glad 
or sorry "no, I live south of heah. What-all's yo' name?" 

The girl giggled deliciously. 

"Man," she said, "I shu got the mos' reediculoustest name 
you eveh did heah. They call me Vashti yo' bacon '9 
bu'nin'." She stepped out, and ran past him to snatch hio 
skillet deftly from the fire. 

"Vashti" a strange and delightful name. Gideon fol 
lowed her slowly. Her romantic coming and her romantic 
name pleased him; and, too, he thought her beautiful. She 


was scarcely more than a girl, slim and strong and almost 
of his own height. She was barefooted, but her blue-checked 
gingham was clean and belted smartly about a small waist. 
He remembered only one woman who ran as lithely as she 
did, one of the numerous " diving beauties" of the vaudeville 

She cooked their breakfast, but he served her with an 
elaborate gallantry, putting forward all his new and foreign 
graces, garnishing his speech with imposing polysyllables, 
casting about their picnic breakfast a radiant aura of gran 
deur borrowed from the recent days of his fame. And he 
saw that he pleased her, and with her open admiration es 
sayed still greater flights of polished manner. 

He made vague plans for delaying his journey as they 
sat smoking in pleasant conversational ease; and when an 
interruption came it vexed him. 

"Vashty! Vashty!" a woman's voice sounded thin and 
Car away. "Vashty-y! Yo' heah me, chile?" 

Vashti rose to her feet with a sigh. 

"That's my ma," she said regretfully. 

"What do yo' care?" asked Gideon. "Let her yell awhile." 

The girl shook her head. 

"Ma's a moughty pow'ful 'oman, and she done got a club 
'bout the size o' my wrist." She moved off a step or so, 
and glanced back at him. 

Gideon leaped to his feet. 

"When yo' comin' back? Yo' yo' ain' goin' with 
out " He held out his arms to her, but she only giggled 

and began to walk slowly away. With a bound he was after 
her, one hand catching her lightly by the shoulder. He felt 
suddenly that he must not lose sight of her. 

"Let me go! Tu'n me loose, yo'!" The girl was still 
laughing, but evidently troubled. She wrenched herself 
away with an effort, only to be caught again a moment later. 
She screamed and struck at him as he kissed her; for now 
she was really in terror. 

The blow caught Gideon squarely in the mouth, and with 
such force that he staggered back, astonished, while the girl 
took wildly to her heels. He stood for a moment irresolute, 


for something was happening to him. For months he had 
evaded love with a gentle embarrassment; now, with the 
savage crash of that blow, he knew unreasoningly that he 
had found his woman. 

He leaped after her again, running as he had not run in 
years, in savage, determined pursuit, tearing through brier 
and scrub, tripping, falling, rising, never losing sight of the 
blue-clad figure before him until at last she tripped and fell, 
and he stood panting above her. 

He took a great breath or so, and leaned over and picked 
her up in his arms, where she screamed and struck and 
scratched at him. He laughed, for he felt no longer sensible 
to pain, and, still chuckling, picked his way carefully back 
to the shore, wading deep into the water to unmoor his boat. 
Then with a swift movement he dropped the girl into the 
bow, pushed free, -and clambered actively aboard. 

The light, early morning breeze had freshened, and he 
made out well toward the middle of the river, never even 
glancing around at the sound of the hallooing he now heard 
from shore. His exertions had quickened his breathing, but 
he felt strong and joyful. Vashti lay a huddle of blue in 
the bow, crouched in fear and desolation, shaken and torn 
with sobbing; but he made no effort to comfort her. He 
was untroubled by any sense of wrong; he was simply and 
unreasoningly satisfied with what he had done. Despite all 
his gentle, easygoing, laughter-loving existence, he found 
nothing incongruous or unnatural in this sudden act of 
violence. He was aglow with happiness; he was taking 
home a wife. The blind tumult of capture had passed; a 
great tenderness possessed him. 

The leaky little boat was plunging and dancing in swift 
ecstasy of movement; all about them the little waves ran 
glittering in the sunlight, plashing and slapping against the 
boat's low side, tossing tiny crests to the following wind, 
showing rifts of white here and there, blowing handfuls of 
foam and spray. Gideon went softly about the business of 
shortening his small sail, and came quietly back to his steer 
ing-seat again. Soon he would have to be making for what 
lea the western shore offered; but he was holding to the 


middle of the river as long as he could, because with every 
mile the shores were growing more familiar, calling to him 
to make what speed he could. Vashti's sobbing had grown 
small and ceased; he wondered if she had fallen asleep. 

Presently, however, he saw her face raised a face still 
shining with tears. She saw that he was watching her, and 
crouched low again. A dash of spray spattered over her, 
and she looked up frightened, glancing fearfully overside; 
then once more her eyes came back to him, and this time she 
got up, still small and crouching, and made her way slowly 
and painfully down the length of the boat, until at last 
Gideon moved aside for her, and she sank in the bottom be 
side him, hiding her eyes in her gingham sleeve. 

Gideon stretched out a broad hand and touched her head 
lightly; and wkh a tiny gasp her fingers stole up to his. 

"Honey," said Gideon "Honey, yo' ain' mad, is yo'?" 

She shook her head, not looking at him. 

"Yo' ain' grievin' fob yo' ma?" 

Again she shook her head. 

"Because," said Gideon, smiling down at her, "I ain' got 
no beeg club like she has." 

A soft and smothered giggle answered him, and this time 
Vashti looked up and laid her head against him with a small 
sigh of contentment. 

Gideon felt very tender, very important, at peace with 
himself and all the world. He rounded a jutting point, and 
stretched out a black hand, pointing. 

"Yondeh it is, Honey," he said. "We's almos' home." 


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